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in 1838—1839. 



■ This stone (Slavery), which was rejected by the first builders, is become the 
chief stone of the corner in our new edifice.' — Speech of Alexander H. Ste- 
phens, Vice-President of the Confederate States : delivered March 21, 1861. 




186 3. 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand 
eight hundred and sixty-three, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District 
of New York 








The following diary was kept in the winter and 
spring of 1838-9, on an estate consisting of rice and 
cotton plantations, in the islands at the entrance of the 
Altamaha, on the coast of Georgia. 

The slaves in whom I then had an unfortunate in- 
terest were sold some years ago. The islands them- 
selves are at present in the power of the Northern 
troops. The record contained in the following pages 
is a picture of conditions of human existence which I 
hope and believe have passed away. 

London, January 16, 1863. 

A Kon 

(SEORdr I A , 

Of Maes 




journ^ PJs^^m 

Philadelphia, December, 1838. 

My dear E j — I return you Mr. 's letter. I do 

not think it answers any of the questions debated in our 
last conversation at all satisfactorily : the right one man 
has to enslave another, he has not the hardihood to assert; 
but in the reasons he adduces to defend that act of injus- 
tice, the contradictory statements he makes appear to me 
to refute each other. He says, that to the Continental 
European protesting against the abstract iniquity of slave- 
ry, his answer would be, " The slaves are infinitely better 
off than half the Continental peasantry." To the English- 
man, "They are happy compared with the miserable 
Irish." But supposing that this answered the question of 
original injustice, which it does not, it is not a true reply. 
Though the negroes are fed, clothed, and housed, and 
though the Irish peasant is starved, naked, and roofless, 
the bare name of freemen — the lordship over his own per- 
son, the power to choose and will — are blessings beyond 
food, raiment, or shelter; possessing which, the want of 
every comfort of life is yet more tolerable than their full- 
est enjoyment without them. Ask the thousands of rag- 
ged destitutes who yearly land upon these shores to seek 
the means of existence — ask the friendless, penniless 
foreign emigrant if he will give up his present misery, his 
future uncertainty, his doubtful and difficult struggle for 
life at once, for the secure, and, as it is called, fortunate 
dependence of the slave : the indignation with which he 


would spurn the offer will prove that he possesses one 
good beyond all others, and that his birthright as a man 
is more precious to him yet than the mess of pottage for 
which he is told to exchange it because he is starving. 

Of course the reverse alternative can not be offered to 
the slaves, for at the very word the riches of those who 
own them would make themselves wings and flee away. 
But I do not admit the comparison between your slaves 
and even the lowest class of European free laborers, for 
the former are allowed the exercise of no faculties but 
those which they enjoy in common with the brutes that 
perish. The just comparison is between the slaves and 
the useful animals to whose level your laws reduce them ; 
and I will acknowledge that the slaves of a kind owner 
may be as well cared for, and as happy, as the dogs and 
horses of a merciful master; but the latter condition — i. e., 
that of happiness — must again depend upon the complete 
perfection of their moral and mental degradation. Mr. 

, in his letter, maintains that they are an inferior race, 

and, compared with the whites, "animals, incapable of 
mental culture and moral improvement:" to this I can 
only reply, that if they are incapable of profiting by in- 
struction, I do not see the necessity for laws inflicting 
heavy penalties on those who offer it to them. If they 
really are brutish, witless, dull, and devoid of capacity for 
progress, where lies the danger which is constantly insist- 
ed upon of offering them that of which they are incapable. 
We have no laws forbidding us to teach our dogs and 
horses as much as they can comprehend ; nobody is fined 
or imprisoned for reasoning upon knowledge and liberty 
to the beasts of the field, for they are incapable of such 
truths. But these themes are forbidden to slaves, not 
because they can not, but because they can and would 
seize on them with avidity — receive them gladly, com- 
prehend them quickly ; and the masters' power over them 


would be annihilated at once and forever. But I have 
more frequently heard not that they were incapable of re- 
ceiving instruction, but something much nearer the truth 
— that knowledge only makes them miserable: the mo- 
ment they are in any degree enlightened, they become un- 
happy. In the letter I return to you Mr. says that 

the very slightest amount of education, merely teaching 
them to read, "impairs their value as slaves, for it instant- 
ly destroys their contentedness, and, since you do not con- 
template changing their condition, it is surely doing them 
an ill service to destroy their acquiescence in it ;" but 
this is a very different ground of argument from the other. 
The discontent they evince upon the mere dawn of an ad- 
vance in intelligence proves not only that they can acquire, 
but combine ideas, a process to which it is very difficult 
to assign a limit ; and there indeed the whole question 
lies, and there and nowhere else the shoe really pinches. 
A slave is ignorant ; he eats, drinks, sleeps, labors, and is 
happy. He learns to read ; he feels, thinks, reflects, and 
becomes miserable. He discovers himself to be one of a 
debased and degraded race, deprived of , the elementary 
rights which God has granted to all men alike ; every ac- 
tion is controlled, every word noted ; he may not stir be- 
yond his appointed bounds, to the right hand or to the 
left, at his own will, but at the will of another he may be 
sent miles and miles of weary journeying — tethered, yoked, 
collared, and fettered — away from whatever he may know 
as home, severed from all those ties of blood and affection 
which he alone of all human, of all living creatures on the 
face of the earth, may neither enjoy in peace nor defend 
when they are outraged. If he is well treated, if his mas- 
ter be tolerably humane or even understand his own in- 
terest tolerably, this is probably all he may have to en- 
dure : it is only to the consciousness of these evils that 
knowledge and reflection awaken him. But how is it if 



his master be severe, harsh, cruel — or even only careless 
— leaving his creatures to the delegated dominion of some 
overseer or agent, whose love of power, or other evil dis- 
positions, are checked by no considerations of personal 
interest? Imagination shrinks from the possible result 

of such a state of things ; nor must you, or Mr. , tell 

me that the horrors thus suggested exist only in imagina- 
tion. The Southern newspapers, with their advertise- 
ments of negro sales and personal descriptions of fugitive 
slaves, supply details of misery that it would be difficult 
for imagination to exceed. Scorn, derision, insult, menace 
— the handcuff, the lash — the tearing away of children 
from parents, of husbands from wives — the weary trudg- 
ing in droves along the common highways, the labor of 
body, the despair of mind, the sickness of heart — these 
are the realities which belong to the system, and form the 
rule, rather than the exception, in the slave's experience. 
And this system exists here in this country of yours, 
which boasts itself the asylum of the oppressed, the home 
of freedom, the one place in all the world where all men 
may find enfranchisement from all thraldoms of mind, soul, 
or body — the land elect of liberty. 

Mr. lays great stress, as a proof of the natural in- 
feriority of the blacks, on the little comparative progress 
they have made in those states where they enjoy their 
freedom, and the fact that, whatever quickness of parts 
they may exhibit while very young, on attaining maturity 
they invariably sink again into inferiority, or at least me- 
diocrity, and indolence. But surely there are other causes 
to account for this besides natural deficiency, which must, 
I think, be obvious to any unprejudiced person observing 
the condition of the free blacks in your Northern com- 
munities. If, in the early portion of their life, they escape 
the contempt and derision of their white associates — if 
the blessed unconsciousness and ignorance of childhood 


keeps them for a few years unaware of the conventional 
proscription under which their whole race is placed (and 
it is difficult to walk your streets, and mark the tone of 
insolent superiority assumed by even the gutter-urchins 
over their dusky contemporaries, and imagine this possi- 
ble) — as soon as they acquire the first rudiments of knowl- 
edge, as soon as they begin to grow up and pass from in- 
fancy to youth, as soon as they cast the first observing 
glance upon the world by which they are surrounded, and 
the society of which they are members, they must become 
conscious that they are marked as the Hebrew lepers of 
old, and are condemned to sit, like those unfortunates, 
without the gates of every human and social sympathy. 
From their own sable color, a pall falls over the whole of 
God's universe to them, and they find themselves stamped 
with a badge of infamy of Nature's own devising, at sight 
of which all natural kindliness of man to man seems to 
recoil from them. They are not slaves indeed, but they 
are pariahs ; debarred from all fellowship save with their 
own despised race — scorned by the lowest white ruffian 
in your streets, not tolerated as companions even by the 
foreign menials in your kitchen. They are free certainly, 
but they are also degraded, rejected, the offscum and the 
offscouring of the very dregs of your society ; they are 
free from the chain, the whip, the enforced task and un- 
paid toil of slavery ; but they are not the less under a ban. 
Their kinship with slaves forever bars them from a full 
share of the freeman's inheritance of equal rights, and 
equal consideration and respect. All hands are extended 
to thrust them out, all fingers point at their dusky skin, 
all tongues — the most vulgar, as well as the self-styled 
most refined— have learned to turn the very name of their 
race into an insult and a reproach. How, in the name of 
all that is natural, probable, possible, should the spirit and 
energy of any human creature support itself under such 


an accumulation of injustice and obloquy? Where shall 
any mass of men be found with power of character and 
mind sufficient to bear up against such a weight of preju- 
dice? Why, if one individual rarely gifted by heaven 
were to raise himself out of such a slough of despond, he 
would be a miracle; and what would be his reward? 
Would he be admitted to an equal share in your political 
rights ? would he ever be allowed to cross the threshold 
of your doors ? would any of you give your daughter to 
his son, or your son to his daughter ? would you, in any 
one particular, admit him to the footing of equality which 
any man with a white skin would claim, whose ability and 
worth had so raised him from the lower degrees of the 
social scale ? You would turn from such propositions with 
abhorrence, and the servants in your kitchen and stable — 
the ignorant and boorish refuse of foreign populations, in 
whose countries no such prejudice exists, imbibing it with 
the very air they breathe here — would shrink from eating 
at the same table with such a man, or holding out the 
hand of common fellowship to him. Under the species 
of social proscription in which the blacks in your Northern 
cities exist, if they preserved energy of mind, enterprise 
of spirit, or any of the best attributes and powers of free 
men, they would prove themselves, instead of the lowest 
and least of human races, the highest and first, not only 
of all that do exist, but of all that ever have existed ; for 
they alone would seek and cultivate knowledge, goodness, 
truth, science, art, refinement, and all improvement, jDurely 
for the sake of their own excellence, and without one of 
those incentives of honor, power, and fortune, which are 
found to be the chief, too often the only, inducements 
which lead white men to the pursuit of the same objects. 

You know very well, dear E , that in speaking of 

the free blacks of the North I here state nothing but what 
is true, and of daily experience. Only last week I heard 


in this very town of Philadelphia of a family of strict 
probity and honor, highly principled, intelligent, well-edu- 
cated, and accomplished, and (to speak in the world's lan- 
guage) respectable in every way — i,e.,rich. Upon an 
English lady's stating it to be her intention to visit these 
persons when she came to Philadelphia, she was told that 
if she did nobody else would visit her; and she probably 
would excite a malevolent feeling, which might find vent 
in some violent demonstration against this family. All 
that I have now said of course bears only upon the con- 
dition of the free colored population of the .North, with 
which I am familiar enough to speak confidently of it. As 
fpj* the slaves, and their capacity for progress, I can say 
nothing, for I have never been among them to judge what 
faculties their unhappy social position leaves to them un- 
impaired. But it seems to me that no experiment on a 
sufficiently large scale can have been tried for a sufficient 
length of time to determine the question of their incurable 
inferiority. Physiologists say that three successive gen- 
erations appear to be necessary to produce an effectual 
change of constitution (bodily and mental), be it for health 
or disease. There are positive physical defects which 
produce positive mental ones ; the diseases of the muscu- 
lar and nervous systems descend from father to son. Upon 
the agency of one corporal power how much that is not 
corporal depends ; from generation to generation internal 
disease and external deformity, vices, virtues, talents, and 
deficiencies are transmitted, and by the action of the same 
law it must be long indeed before the offspring of slaves 
■ — creatures begotten of a race debased and degraded to 
the lowest degree, themselves born in slavery, and whose 
progenitors have eaten the bread and drawn the breath 
of slavery for years — can be measured, with any show of 
justice, by even the least favored descendants of Europe 
"an nations, whose qualities have been for centuries devel- 


oping themselves under the beneficent influences of free- 
dom, and the progress it inspires. 

I am rather surprised at the outbreak of violent disgust 
which Mr. > indulges in on the subject of amalgama- 
tion, as that formed no part of our discussion, and seems 
to me a curious subject for abstract argument. I should 
think the intermarrying between blacks and whites a mat- 
ter to be as little insisted upon if repugnant, as prevented 
if agreeable to the majority of the two races. At the 
same time, I can not help being astonished at the furious 
and ungoverned execration which all reference to the pos- 
sibility of a fusion of the races draws down upon those 
who suggest it, because nobody pretends to deny that, 
throughout the South, a large proportion of the population 
is the offspring of white men and colored women. In 
New Orleans, a class of unhappy females exists whose 
mingled blood does not prevent their being remarkable 
for their beauty, and with whom no man, no gentleman, 
in that city shrinks from associating ; and while the slave- 
owners of the Southern States insist vehemently upon the 
mental and physical inferiority of the blacks, they are be- 
nevolently doing their best, in one way at least, to raise 
and improve the degraded race, and the bastard popula- 
tion which forms so ominous an element in the social safe- 
ty of their cities certainly exhibit in their forms and feat- 
ures the benefit they derive from their white progenitors. 
It is hard to conceive that some mental improvement does 
not accompany this physical change. Already the finer 
forms of the European races are cast in these dusky 
moulds : the outward configuration can hardly thus im- 
prove without corresponding progress in the inward ca- 
pacities. The white man's blood and bones have begot- 
ten this bronze race, and bequeathed to it, in some degree, 
qualities, tendencies, capabilities, such as are the inherit- 
ance of the highest order of human animals. Mr. 


(and many others) speaks as if there were a natural re- 
pugnance in all whites to any alliance with the black race ; 
and yet it is notorious, that almost every Southern planter 
has a family more or less numerous of illegitimate colored 
children. Most certainly, few people would like to assert 
that such connections are formed because it is the interest 
of these planters to increase the number of their human 
property, and that they add to their revenue by the clos- 
est intimacy with creatures that they loathe, in order to 
reckon among their wealth the children of their body. 
Surely that is a monstrous and unnatural supposition, and 
utterly unworthy of belief. That such connections exist 
commonly is a sufficient proof that they are not abhorrent 
to nature ; but it seems, indeed, as if marriage (and not 
concubinage) was the horrible enormity which can not be 
tolerated, and against which, moreover, it has been deemed 
expedient to enact laws. Now it appears very evident 
that there is no law in the white man's nature which pre- 
vents him from making a colored woman the mother of 
his children, but there is a law on his statute-books forbid- 
ding him to make her his wife ; and if we are to admit 
the theory that the mixing of the races is a monstrosity, 
it seems almost as curious that laws should be enacted to 
prevent men marrying women toward whom they have an 
invincible natural repugnance, as that education should by 
law be prohibited to creatures incapable of receiving it. 
As for the exhortation with which Mr. closes his let- 
ter, that I will not " go down to my husband's plantation 
prejudiced against what I am to find there," I know not 
well how to answer it. Assuredly I am going prejudiced 
against slavery, for I am an Englishwoman, in whom the 
absence of such a prejudice would be disgraceful. Nev- 
ertheless, I go prepared to find many mitigations in the 
practice to the general injustice and cruelty of the system 
— much kindness on the part of the masters, much content 


on that of the slaves ; and I feel very sure that you may 
rely upon the carefulness of my observation, and the accu- 
racy of my report, of every detail of the working of the 
thing that comes under my notice ; and certainly, on the 
plantation to which I am going, it will be more likely that 
I should some things extenuate, than set down aught in 
malice. Yours ever faithfully. 

Darien, Georgia. 

Deae E , — Minuteness of detail, and fidelity in the 

account of my daily doings, will hardly, I fear, render my 
letters very interesting to you now ; but, cut off as I am 
here from all the usual resources and amusements of civ- 
ilized existence, I shall find but little to communicate to 
you that is not furnished by my observations on the novel 
appearance of external nature, and the moral and physical 

condition of Mr. 's people. The latter subject is, I 

know, one sufficiently interesting in itself to you, and I 
shall not scruple to impart all the reflections which may 
occur to me relative to their state during my stay here, 
where inquiry into their mode of existence will form my 
chief occupation, and, necessarily also, the staple commod- 
ity of my letters. I purpose, while I reside here, keeping 
a sort of journal, such as Monk Lewis wrote during his 
visit to his West India plantations. I wish I had any 
prospect of rendering my diary as interesting and amus- 
ing to you as his was to me. 

In taking my first walk on the island, I directed my 
steps toward the rice mill, a large building on the banks 
of the river, within a few yards of the house we occupy. 
Is it not rather curious that Miss Martin eau should have 
mentioned the erection of a steam mill for threshing rice 
somewhere in the vicinity of Charleston as a singular nov- 
elty, likely to form an era in Southern agriculture, and to 


produce the most desirable changes in the system of labor 
by which it is carried on ? Now on this estate alone there 
are three threshing mills — one worked by steam, one by 
the tide, and one by horses ; there are two private steam 
mills on plantations adjacent to ours, and a public one at 
Savannah, where the planters who have none on their own 
estates are in the habit of sending their rice to be thresh- 
ed at a certain percentage ; these have all been in opera- 
tion for some years, and I therefore am at a loss to un- 
derstand w*hat made her hail the erection of the one at 
Charleston as likely to produce such immediate and hap- 
py results. By-the-by — of the misstatements, or rather 
mistakes, for they are such, in her books, with regard to 
certain facts — her only disadvantage in acquiring infor- 
mation was not by any means that natural infirmity on 
which the periodical press, both here and in England, 
has commented with so much brutality. She had the 
misfortune to possess, too, that unsuspecting reliance upon 
the truth of others which they are apt to feel who them- 
selves hold truth most sacred ; and this was a sore disad- 
vantage to her in a country where I have heard it myself 
repeatedly asserted — and, what is more, much gloried in 
— that she was purposely misled by the persons to whom 
she addressed her inquiries, who did not scruple to dis- 
grace themselves by imposing in the grossest manner upon 
her credulity and anxiety to obtain information. It is a 
knowledge of this very shameful proceeding which has 
made me most especially anxious to avoid fact hunting. 
I might fill my letters to you with accounts received from 
others, but, as I am aware of the risk which I run in so do- 
ing, I shall furnish you with no details but those which 
come under my own immediate observation. To return 
to the rice mill: it is worked by a steam-engine of thirty 
horse power, and, besides threshing great part of our own 
rice, is kept constantly employed by the neighboring plant- 


ers, who send their grain to it in preference to the more 
distant mill at Savannah, paying, of course, the same per- 
centage, which makes it a very profitable addition to the 
estate. Immediately opposite to this building is a small 
shed, which they call the cook's shop, and where the daily 
allowance of rice and corn grits of the people is boiled and 
distributed to them by an old woman, whose special busi- 
ness this is. There are four settlements or villages (or, as 
the negroes call them, camps) on the island, consisting of 
from ten to twenty houses, and to each settlement is an- 
nexed a cook's shop with capacious caldrons, and the old- 
est wife of the settlement for officiating priestess. Pursu- 
ing my walk along the river's bank, upon an artificial dike, 
sufficiently high and broad to protect the fields from in- 
undation by the ordinary rising of the tide — for the whole 
island is below high-water mark — I passed the blacksmith's 
and cooper's shops. At the first all the common iron im- 
plements of husbandry or household use for the estate are 
made, and at the latter all the rice barrels necessary for the 
crop, besides tubs and buckets, large and small, for the use 
of the people, and cedar tubs, of noble dimensions and ex- 
ceedingly neat workmanship, for our own household pur- 
poses. The fragrance of these when they are first made, as 
well as their ample size, renders them preferable as dress- 
ing-room furniture, in my opinion, to all the china foot- 
tubs that ever came out of Staffordshire. After this I got 
out of the vicinity of the settlement, and pursued my way 
along a narrow dike — the river on the one hand, and, on 
the other, a slimy, poisonous-looking swamp, all rattling 
with sedges of enormous height, in which one might lose 
one's way as effectually as in a forest of oaks. Beyond 
this, the low rice-fields, all clothed in their rugged stubble, 
divided by dikes into monotonous squares, a species of pros- 
pect by no means beautiful to the mere lover of the pic- 
turesque. The only thing that I met with to attract my 


attention was a most beautiful species of ivy, the leaf 
longer and more graceful than that of the common En- 
glish creeper, glittering with the highest varnish, delicate- 
ly veined, and of a rich brown-green, growing in profuse 
garlands from branch to branch of some stunted evergreen 
bushes which border the dike, and which the people call 
salt-water bush. My walks are rather circumscribed, in- 
asmuch as the dikes are the only promenades. On all 
sides of these lie either the marshy rice-fields, the brim- 
ming river, or the swampy patches of yet unreclaimed 
forest, where the hugh cypress-trees and exquisite ever- 
green undergrowth spring up from a stagnant sweltering 
pool, that effectually forbids the foot of the explorer. 

As I skirted one of these thickets to-day, I stood still to 
admire the beauty of the shrubbery. Every shade of 
green, every variety of form, every degree of varnish, and 
all in full leaf" and beauty in the very depth of winter. 
The stunted dark-colored oak ; the magnolia bay (like our 
own culinary and fragrant bay), which grows to a very 
great size ; the wild myrtle, a beautiful and profuse shrub, 
rising to a height of six, eight, and ten feet, and branch- 
ing on all sides in luxuriant tufted fullness ; most beauti- 
ful of all, that pride of the South, the magnolia grandiflo- 
ra, whose lustrous dark green perfect foliage would alone 
render it an object of admiration, without the queenly 
blossom whose color, size, and perfume are unrivaled in 
the whole vegetable kingdom. This last magnificent crea-. 
ture grows to the size of a forest tree in these swamps, 
but seldom adorns a high or dry soil, or suffers itself to 
be successfully transplanted. Under all these the spiked 
palmetto forms an impenetrable covert, and from glitter- 
ing graceful branch to branch hang garlands of evergreen 
creepers, on which the mocking-birds are swinging and 
singing even now ; while I, bethinking me of the pinching 
cold that is at this hour tyrannizing over your region, look 


W^icV, h^e people calj 


ground. I should like to bargain for such a finis myself 
amazingly, I know, and have always thought that the death 
I should prefer would be to break my neck off the back 
of my horse at a full gallop on a fine day. Of course a 
bad shot should be hung — a man who shatters his birds' 
wings and legs ; if I undertook the trade, I would learn of 
some Southern duelist, and always shoot my bird through 
the head or heart — as an expert murderer knows how. 
Besides these birds of which we make our prey, there are 
others that prey upon their own fraternity. Hawks of 
every sort and size wheel their steady rounds above the 
rice-fields ; and the great turkey-buzzards — those most un- 
sightly carrion birds — spread their broad black wings, and 
soar over the river like so many mock eagles. I do not 
know that I ever saw any winged creature of so forbid- 
ding an aspect as these same turkey-buzzards ; their heavy 
flight, their awkward gait, their bald -looking head and 
neck, and their devotion to every species of foul and de- 
testable food, render them almost abhorrent to me. They 
abound in the South, and in Charleston are held in espe- 
cial veneration for their scavenger-like propensities, kill- 
ing one of them being, I believe, a finable offense by the 
city police regulations. Among the Brobdignagian sedges 
that in some parts of the island fringe the Altamaha, the 
nightshade (apparently the same as the European creep- 
er) weaves a perfect matting of its poisonous garlands, 
and my remembrance of its prevalence in the woods and 
hedges of England did not reconcile me to its appearance 
here. How much of this is mere association I can not 
tell ; but, whether the wild duck makes its nest under its 
green arches, or the alligators and snakes of the Altamaha 
have their secret bowers there, it is an evil-looking weed, 
and I shall have every leaf of it cleared away. 

I must inform you of a curious conversation which took 
place between my little girl and the woman who performs 


for us the offices of chambermaid here — of course one of 

Mr. 's slaves. What suggested it to the child, or 

whence indeed she gathered her information, I know not ; 
but children are made of eyes and ears, and nothing, how- 
ever minute, escapes their microscopic observation. She 
suddenly began addressing this woman. "Mary, some 
persons are free and some are not (the woman made no 
reply). I am a free person (of a little more than three 
years old) . I say, I am a free person, Mary — do you know 
that ?" " Yes, missis." " Some persons are free and some 
are not — do you know that, Mary ?" " Yes, missis, Aere," 
was the reply ; " I know it is so here, in this world." Here 
my child's white nurse, my dear Margery, who had hither- 
to been silent, interfered, saying, " Oh, then you think it 
will not always be so ?" " Me hope not, missis." I am 

afraid, E , this woman actually imagines that there 

will be no slaves in heaven; isn't that preposterous, now, 
when, by the account of most of the Southerners, slavery 
itself must be heaven, or something uncommonly like it? 
Oh, if you could imagine how this title " Missis," addressed 
to me and to my children, shocks all my feelings ! Several 
times I have exclaimed, " For God's sake do not call me 
that !" and only been awakened, by the stupid amazement 
of the poor creatures I was addressing, to the perfect use- 
lessness of my thus expostulating with them; once or 
twice, indeed, I have done more — I have explained to 
them, and they appeared to comprehend me well, that I 
had no ownership over them, for that I held such owner- 
ship sinful, and that, though I was the wife of the man 
who pretends to own them, I was, in truth, no more their 
mistress than they were mine. Some of them I know un- 
derstood me, more of them did not. 

Our servants — those who have been selected to wait 
upon us in the house — consist of a man, who is quite a tol- 
erable cook (I believe this is a natural gift with them, as 


with Frenchmen); a dairy-woman, who churns for us; a 
laundry-woman ; her daughter, our housemaid, the afore- 
said Mary ; and two young lads of from fifteen to twenty, 
who wait upon us in the capacity of footmen. As, how.- 
ever, the latter are perfectly filthy in their persons and 
clothes — their faces, hands, and naked feet being literally 
incrusted with dirt — their attendance at our meals is not, 
as you may suppose, particularly agreeable to me, and I 
dispense with it as often as possible. Mary, too, is so in- 
tolerably offensive in her person that it is impossible to 
endure her proximity, and the consequence is that, among 

Mr. 's slaves, I wait upon myself more than I have 

ever done in my life before. About this same personal 
offensiveness, the Southerners, you know, insist that it is 
inherent with the race, and it is one of their most cogent 
reasons for keeping them as slaves. But, as this very dis- 
agreeable peculiarity does not prevent Southern women 
from hanging their infants at the breasts of negresses, nor 
almost every planter's wife and daughter from having one 
or more little pet blacks sleeping like puppy-dogs in their 
very bedchamber, nor almost every planter from admitting 
one or several of his female slaves to the still closer inti- 
macy of his bed, it seems to me that this objection to do- 
ing them right is not very valid. I can not imagine that 
they would smell much worse if they were free, or come 
in much closer contact with the delicate organs of their 
white fellow-countrymen ; indeed, inasmuch as good deeds 
are spoken of as having a sweet savor before God, it might 
be supposed that the freeing of the blacks might prove 
rather an odoriferous process than the contrary. How- 
ever this may be, I must tell you that this potent reason 
for enslaving a whole race of people is no more potent 
with me than most of the others adduced to support the 
system, inasmuch as, from observation and some experi- 
ence, I am strongly inclined to believe that peculiar igno- 



ranee of the laws of health and the habits of decent clean- 
liness are the real and only causes of this disagreeable 
characteristic of the race, thorough ablutions and change 
of linen, when tried, having been perfectly successful in 
removing all such objections; and if ever you have come 
into any thing like neighborly proximity with a low Irish- 
man or woman, I think you will allow that the same causes 
produce very nearly the same effects. The stench in an 
Irish, Scotch, Italian, or French hovel are quite as intoler- 
able as any I ever found in our negro houses, and the filth 
and vermin which abound about the clothes and persons 
of the lower peasantry of any of those countries as abom- 
inable as the same conditions in the black population of 
the United States. A total absence of self-respect begets 
these hateful physical results, and in proportion as moral 
influences are remote, physical evils will abound. Well- 
being, freedom, and industry induce self-respect, self-re- 
spect induces cleanliness and personal attention, so that 
slavery is answerable for all the evils that exhibit them- 
selves where it exists — from lying, thieving, and adultery, 
to dirty houses, ragged clothes, and foul smells. 

But to return to our Ganymedes. One of them — the 
eldest son of our laundry-woman, and Mary's brother, a 
boy of the name of Aleck (Alexander)— is uncommonly 
bright and intelligent; he performs all the offices of a 
well-instructed waiter with great efficiency, and any where 
out of slave land would be able to earn fourteen or fifteen 
dollars a month for himself; he is remarkably good tem- 
pered and well disposed. The other poor boy is so stupid 
that he appears sullen from absolute darkness of intellect ; 
instead of being a little lower than the angels, he is scarce 
ly a little higher than the brutes, and to this condition are 
reduced the majority of his kind by the institutions under 
which they live. I should tell you that Aleck's parents 
and kindred have always been about the house of the 


overseer, and in daily habits of intercourse with him and 
his wife ; and wherever this is the case the effect of invol- 
untary education is evident in the improved intelligence 

of the degraded race. In a conversation which Mr. 

had this evening with Mr. O , the overseer, the latter 

mentioned that two of our carpenters had in their leisure 
time made a boat, which they had disposed of to some 
neighboring planter for sixty dollars. 

Now, E , I have no intention of telling you a one- 
sided story, or concealing from you what are cited as the 
advantages which these poor people possess ; you, who 
know that no indulgence is worth simple justice, either to 
him who gives or him who receives, will not thence con- 
clude that their situation thus mitigated is, therefore, what 
it should be. On this matter of the sixty dollars earned 

by Mr. 's two men much stress was laid by him and 

his overseer. I look at it thus : If these men were indus- 
trious enough, out of their scanty leisure, to earn sixty dol- 
lars, how much more of remuneration, of comfort, of im- 
provement might they not have achieved were the price 
of their daily labor duly paid them, instead of being un- 
justly withheld to support an idle young man and his 
idle family — i. 6., myself and my children. 

And here it may be well to inform you that the slaves 
on this plantation are divided into field-hands and mechan- 
ics or artisans. The former, the great majority, are the 
more stupid and brutish of the tribe ; the others, who are 
regularly taught their trades, are not only exceedingly ex- 
pert at them, but exhibit a greater general activity of in- 
tellect, which must necessarily result from even a partial 
degree of cultivation. There are here a gang (for that is 
the honorable term) of coopers, of blacksmiths, of brick- 
layers, of carpenters, all well acquainted with their pecul- 
iar trades. The latter constructed the wash-hand stands, 
clothes-presses, sofas, tables, etc., with which our house is 



furnished, and they are very neat pieces of workmanship 
— neither veneered or polished indeed, nor of very costly 
materials, but of the white pine wood planed as smooth 
as marble — a species of furniture not very luxurious per- 
haps, but all the better adapted therefore to the house it- 
self, which is certainly rather more devoid of the conven- 
iences and adornments of modern existence than any thing 
I ever took up my abode in before. It consists of three 
small rooms, and three still smaller, which would be more 
appropriately designated as closets, a wooden recess by 
way of pantry, and a kitchen detached from the dwelling 
— a mere wooden out-house, with no floor but the bare 
earth, and for furniture a congregation of filthy negroes, 
who lounge in and out of it like hungry hounds at all hours 
of the day and night, picking up such scraps of food as 
they can find about, which they discuss squatting down 
upon their hams, in which interesting position and occu- 
pation I generally find a number of them whenever I have 
sufficient hardihood to venture within those precincts, the 
sight of which and its tenants is enough to slacken the 
appetite of the hungriest hunter that ever lost all nice re- 
gards in the mere animal desire for food. Of our three 
apartments, one is our sitting, eating, and living room, 
and is sixteen feet by fifteen. The walls are plastered in- 
deed, but neither painted nor papered ; it is divided from 
our bedroom (a similarly elegant and comfortable cham- 
ber) by a dingy wooden partition covered all over with 
hooks, pegs, and nails, to which hats, caps, keys, etc., etc., 
are suspended in graceful irregularity. The doors open 
by wooden latches, raised by means of small bits of pack- 
thread — I imagine, the same primitive order of fastening 
celebrated in the touching chronicle of Red Riding Hood ; 
how they shut I will not attempt to describe, as the shut- 
ting of a door is a process of extremely rare occurrence 
throughout the whole Southern country. The third room, 


* ■!* 

\\e House 0-9 1^)u(- le v^ IsU»)rl 


a chamber with sloping ceiling, immediately over our sit- 
ting-room and under the roof, is appropriated to the nurse 

and my two babies. Of the closets, one is Mr. , the 

overseer's, bedroom, the other his office or place of busi- 
ness ; and the third, adjoining our bedroom, and opening 

immediately out of doors, is Mr. 's dressing-room and 

cabinet d'affaires, where he gives audiences to the negroes, 
redresses grievances, distributes red woolen caps (a sin- 
gular gratification to a slave), shaves himself, and per- 
forms the other offices of his toilet. Such being our abode, 
I think you will allow there is little danger of my being 
dazzled by the luxurious splendors of a Southern slave 
residence. Our sole mode of summoning our attendants 
is by a pack-thread bell -rope suspended in the sitting- 
room. From the bedrooms we have to raise the windows 
and our voices, and bring them by power of lungs, or help 
ourselves — which, I thank God, was never yet a hardship 
to me. 

I mentioned to you just now that two of the carpenters 
had made a boat in their leisure time. I must explain 
this to you, and this will involve the mention of another 
of Miss Martineau's mistakes with regard to slave labor, 
at least in many parts of the Southern States. She men- 
tions that on one estate of which she knew, the proprietor 
had made the experiment, and very successfully, of ap- 
pointing to each of his slaves a certain task to be per- 
formed in the day, which once accomplished, no matter 
how early, the rest of the four-and-twenty hours were al- 
lowed to the laborer to employ as he pleased. She men- 
tions this as a single experiment, and rejoices over it as 
a decided amelioration in the condition of the slave, and 
one deserving of general adoption. But in the part of 
Georgia where this estate is situated, the custom of task 
labor is universal, and it prevails, I believe, throughout 
Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of North Carolina ; in 


other parts of the latter state, however — as I was inform- 
ed by our overseer, who is a native of that state — the es- 
tates are small, rather deserving the name of farms, and 
the laborers are much upon the same footing as the labor- 
ing men at the North, working from sunrise to sunset in 
the fields with the farmer and his sons, and coming in with 
them to their meals, which they take immediately after 
the rest of the family. In Louisiana and the new south- 
western slave states, I believe, task labor does not prevail ; 
but it is in those that the condition of the poor human 
cattle is most deplorable, as you know it was there that 
the humane calculation was not only made, but openly and 
unhesitatingly avowed, that the planters found it, upon 
the whole, their most profitable plan to work off (kill with 
labor) their whole number of slaves about once in seven 
years, and renew the whole stock. By-the-by, the Jew- 
ish institution of slavery is much insisted upon by the 
Southern upholders of the system ; perhaps this is their 
notion of the Jewish jubilee, when the slaves were by Mo- 
ses's strict enactment to be all set free. Well, this task 
system is pursued on this estate ; and thus it is that the 
two carpenters were enabled to make the boat they sold 
for sixty dollars. These tasks, of course, profess to be 
graduated according to the sex, age, and strength of the 
laborer; but in many instances this is not the case, as I 

think you will agree when I tell you that on Mr. 's 

first visit to his estates he found that the men and the 
women who labored in the fields had the same task to 
perform. This was a noble admission of female equality, 
was it not ? — and thus it had been on the estate for many 

years past. Mr. , of course, altered the distribution 

of the work, diminishing the quantity done by the women. 

I had a most ludicrous visit this morning from the 

midwife of the estate — rather an important personage 

both to master and slave, as to her unassisted skill and 


science the ushering of all the young negroes into their 
existence of bondage is intrusted. I heard a great deal 
of conversation in the dressing-roorn adjoining mine while 

performing my own toilet, and presently Mr. opened 

my room door, ushering in a dirty, fat, good-humored 
looking old negress, saying, < c The midwife, Rose, wants to 
make your acquaintance." " Oh massa !" shrieked out the 
old creature, in a paroxysm of admiration, " where you get 
this lilly alabaster baby!" For a moment I looked round 
to see if she was speaking of my baby ; but no, my dear, 
this superlative apostrophe was elicited by the fairness of 
my skin : so much for degrees of comparison. Now I 
suppose that if I chose to walk arm in arm with the din- 
giest mulatto through the streets of Philadelphia, nobody 
could possibly tell by my complexion that I was not his 
sister, so that the mere quality of mistress must have had 
a most miraculous effect upon my skin in the eyes of poor 
Rose. But this species of outrageous flattery is as usual 
with these people as with the low Irish, and arises from 
the ignorant desire, common to both the races, of propi- 
tiating at all costs the fellow-creature who is to them as a 
Providence — or rather, I should say, a fate — for 'tis a 
heathen and no Christian relationship. Soon after this 
visit, I was summoned into the wooden porch or piazza 
of the house, to see a poor woman who desired to speak 
to me. This was none other than the tall, emaciated- 
looking negress who, on the day of our arrival, had em- 
braced me and my nurse with such irresistible zeal. She 
appeared very ill to-day, and presently unfolded to me a 
most distressing history of bodily afflictions. She was 
the mother of a very large family, and complained to me 
that, what with childbearing and hard field labor, her 
back was almost broken in two. With an almost savage 
vehemence of gesticulation, she suddenly tore up her 
scanty clothing, and exhibited a spectacle with which I 


was inconceivably shocked and sickened. The facts, with- 
out any of her corroborating statements, bore tolerable 
witness to the hardships of her existence. I promised to 
attend to her ailments and give her proper remedies ; but 
these are natural results, inevitable and irremediable ones, 
of improper treatment of the female frame ; and, though 
there may be alleviation, there can not be any cure when 
once the beautiful and wonderful structure has been thus 
made the victim of ignorance, folly, and wickedness. 

After the departure of this poor woman, I walked 
down the settlement toward the Infirmary or hospital, 
calling in at one or two of the houses along the row. 
These cabins consist of one room, about twelve feet by fif- 
teen, with a couple of closets smaller and closer than the 
state-rooms of a ship, divided off from the main room and 
each other by rough wooden partitions, in which the in- 
habitants sleep. They have almost all of them a rude 
bedstead, with the gray moss of the forests for mattress, 
and filthy, pestilential -looking blankets for covering. 
Two families (sometimes eight and ten in number) reside 
in one of these huts, which are mere wooden frames pin- 
ned, as it were, to the earth by a brick chimney outside, 
whose enormous aperture within pours down a flood of 
air, but little counteracted by the miserable spark of fire, 
which hardly sends an attenuated thread of lingering 
smoke up its huge throat. A wide ditch runs immedi- 
ately at the back of these dwellings, which is filled and 
emptied daily by the tide. Attached to each hovel is a 
small scrap of ground for a garden, which, however, is for 
the most part untended and uncultivated. Such of these 
dwellings as I visited to-day were filthy and wretched in 
the extreme, and exhibited that most deplorable conse- 
quence of ignorance and an abject condition, the inability 
of the inhabitants to secure and improve even such pitiful 
comfort as might yet be achieved by them. Instead of 


the order, neatness, and ingenuity which might convert 
even these miserable hovels into tolerable residences, 
there was the careless, reckless, filthy indolence which 
even the brutes do not exhibit in their lairs and nests, 
and which seemed incapable of applying to the uses of 
existence the few miserable- means of comfort yet within 
their reach. Firewood and shavings lay littered about 
the floors, while the half-naked children were cowering 
round two or three smouldering cinders. The moss with 
which the chinks and crannies of their ill-protecting 
dwellings might have been stuffed was trailing in dirt 
and dust about the ground, while the back door of the 
huts, opening upon a most unsightly ditch, was left wide 
open for the fowls and ducks, which they are allowed to 
raise, to travel in and out, increasing the filth of the 
cabin by what they brought and left in every direction. 
In the midst of the floor, or squatting round the cold 
hearth, would be four or five little children from four to 
ten years old, the latter all with babies in their arms, the 
care of the infants being taken from the mothers (who 
are driven afield as soon as they recover from child labor), 
and devolved upon these poor little nurses, as they are 
called, whose business it is to watch the infant, and carry 
it to its mother whenever it may require nourishment. 
To these hardly human little beings I addressed my re- 
monstrances about the filth, cold, and unnecessary wretch- 
edness of their room, bidding the elder boys and girls 
kindle up the fire, sweep the floor, and expel the poultry. 
For a long time my very words seemed unintelligible to 
them, till, when I began to sweep and make up the fire, 
etc., they first fell to laughing, and then imitating me. 
The incrustations of dirt on their hands, feet, and faces 
were my next object of attack, and the stupid negro prac- 
tice (by-the-by, but a short time since nearly universal in 
enlightened Europe) of keeping the babies with their feet 


bare, and their heads, already well capped by nature with 
their woolly hair, wrapped in half a dozen hot, filthy 
coverings. Thus I traveled down the " street," in every 
dwelling endeavoring to awaken a new perception, that 
of cleanliness, sighing, as I went, over the futility of my 
own exertions, for how can slaves be improved ? Nath- 
less, thought I, let what can be done ; for it may be that, 
the two being incompatible, improvement may yet expel 
slavery ; and so it might, and surely would, if, instead of 
beginning at the end, I could but begin at the beginning 
of my task. If the mind and soul were awakened, instead 
of mere physical good attempted, the physical good would 
result, and the great curse vanish away ; but my hands 
are tied fast, and this corner of the work is all that I may 
do. Yet it can not be but, from my words and actions, 
some revelations should reach these poor people; and 
going in and out among them perpetually, I shall teach, 
and they learn involuntarily a thousand things of deepest 
import. They must learn, and who can tell the fruit of 
that knowledge alone, that there are beings in the world, 
even with skins of a different color from their own, who 
have sympathy for their misfortunes, love for their vir- 
tues, and respect for their common nature— but oh ! my 
heart is full almost to bursting as I walk among these 
most poor creatures. 

The Infirmary is a large two-story building, termina- 
ting the broad orange-planted space between the two 
rows of houses which form the first settlement; it is 
built of whitewashed wood, and contains four large-sized 
rooms. But how shall I describe to you the spectacle 
which was presented to me on entering the first of 
these ? But half the casements, of which there were six, 
were glazed, and these were obscured with dirt, almost as 
much as the other windowless ones were darkened by the 
dingy shutters, which the shivering inmates had fastened 


to in order to protect themselves from the cold. In the enor- 
mous chimney glimmered the powerless embers of a few 
sticks of wood, round which, however, as many of the sick 
women as could approach were cowering, some on wood- 
en settles, most of them on the ground, excluding those 
who were too ill to rise ; and these last poor wretches lay 
prostrate on the floor, without bed, mattress, or pillow, bur- 
ied in tattered and filthy blankets, which, huddled round 
them as they lay strewed about, left hardly space to move 
upon the floor. And here, in their hour of sickness and 
suffering, lay those whose health and strength are spent 
in unrequited labor for us — those who, perhaps even yes- 
terday, were being urged on to their unpaid task — those 
whose husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons were even at 
that hour sweating over the earth, whose produce was to 
buy for us all the luxuries which health can revel in, all the 
comforts which can alleviate sickness. I stood in the midst 
of them, perfectly unable to speak, the tears pouring from 
my eyes at this sad spectacle of their misery, myself and 
my emotion alike strange and incomprehensible to them. 
Here lay women expecting every hour the terrors and ago- 
nies of childbirth, others who had just brought their doom- 
ed offspring into the world, others who were groaning over 
the anguish and bitter disappointment of miscarriages — 
here lay some burning with fever, others chilled with cold 
and aching with rheumatism, upon the hard cold ground, 
the draughts and dampness of the atmosphere increasing 
their sufferings, and dirt, noise, and stench, and every ag- 
gravation of which sickness is capable, combined in their 
condition — here they lay like brute beasts, absorbed in 
physical suffering ; unvisited by any of those Divine influ- 
ences which may ennoble the dispensations of pain and ill- 
ness, forsaken, as it seemed to me, of all good ; and yet, 
O God, Thou surely hadst not forsaken them ! Now pray 
take notice that this is the hospital of an estate where the 



owners are supposed to be humane, the overseer efficient 
and kind, and the negroes remarkably well cared for and 
comfortable. As soon as I recovered from my dismay, I 
addressed old Rose the midwife, who had charge of this 
room, bidding her open the shutters of such windows as 
were glazed, and let in the light. I next proceeded to 
make up the fire ; but, upon my lifting a log for that pur- 
pose, there was one universal outcry of horror, and old 
Rose, attempting to snatch it from me, exclaimed, " Let 
alone, missis — let be ; what for you lift wood ? you have 
nigger enough, missis, to do it !" I hereupon had to ex- 
plain to them my view of the purposes for which hands 
and arms were appended to our bodies, and forthwith be- 
gan making Rose tidy up the miserable apartment, remov- 
ing all the filth and rubbish from the floor that could be 
removed, folding up in piles the blankets of the patients 
who were not using them, and placing, in rather more 
sheltered and comfortable positions, those who were un- 
able to rise. It was all that I could do, and having en- 
forced upon them all my earnest desire that they should 
keep their room swept, and as tidy as possible, I passed 
on to the other room on the ground floor, and to the two 
above, one of which is appropriated to the use of the men 
who are ill. They were all in the same deplorable condi- 
tion, the upper rooms being rather the more miserable, in- 
asmuch as none of the windows were glazed at all, and 
they had, therefore, only the alternative of utter darkness, 
or killing draughts of air from the unsheltered casements. 
In all, filth, disorder, and misery abounded ; the floor was 
the only bed, and scanty begrimed rags of blankets the 
only covering. I left this refuge for Mr. 's sick de- 
pendents with my clothes covered with dust, and full of 
vermin, and with a heart heavy enough, as you will well 
believe. My morning's work had fatigued me not a little, 
and I was glad to return to the house, where I gave vent 


to' my indignation and regret at the scene I had just wit- 
nessed to Mr. and his overseer, who, here, is a mem- 
ber of our family. The latter told me that the condition 
,of the hospital had appeared to him, from his first enter- 
ing upon his situation (only within the last year), to re- 
quire a reform, and that he had proposed it to the former 

manager, Mr. K , and Mr. 's brother, who is part 

proprietor of the estate, but, receiving no encouragement 
from them, had supposed that it was a matter of indiffer- 
ence to the owners, and had left it in the condition in 
which he had found it, in which condition it has been for 
the last nineteen years and upward. 

This new overseer of ours has lived fourteen years with 
an old Scotch gentleman, who owns an estate adjoining 

Mr. 's, on the island of St. Simon's, upon which estate, 

from every thing I can gather, and from what I know of 
the proprietor's character, the slaves are probably treated 
with as much humanity as is consistent with slavery at all, 
and where the management and comfort of the hospital 
in particular had been most carefully and judiciously at- 
tended to. With regard to the indifference of our former 
manager upon the subject of the accommodation for the 
sick, he was an excellent overseer, videlicet the estate re- 
turned a full income under his management, and such men 
have nothing to do with sick slaves : they are tools, to be 
mended only if they can be made available again ; if not, 
to be flung by as useless, without farther expense of money, 
time, or trouble. 

I am learning to row here, for circumscribed, as my 
walks necessarily are, impossible as it is to resort to my 
favorite exercise on horseback upon these narrow dikes, I 
must do something to prevent my blood from stagnating ; 
and this broad brimming river, and the beautiful light 
canoes which lie moored at the steps, are very inviting 
persuaders to this species of exercise. My first attempt 


was confined to pulling an oar across the stream, for 
which I rejoiced in sundry aches and pains altogether 
novel, letting alone a delightful row of blisters on each of 
my hands. 

I forgot to tell you that in the hospital were several 
sick babies, whose mothers were permitted to suspend 
their field labor in order to nurse them. Upon address- 
ing some remonstrances to one of these, who, besides hav- 
ing a sick child, was ill herself, about the horribly dirty 
condition of her baby, she assured me that it was impos- 
sible for them to keep their children clean ; that they 
went out to work at daybreak, and did not get their tasks 
done till evening, and that then they were too tired and 
worn out to do any thing but throw themselves down 
and sleep. This statement of hers I mentioned on my 
return from the hospital, and the overseer appeared ex- 
tremely annoyed by it, and assured me repeatedly that it 
was not true. 

In the evening Mr. , who had been over to Darien, 

mentioned that one of the storekeepers there had told 
him that, in the course of a few years, he had paid the 
negroes of this estate several thousand dollars for moss, 
which is a very profitable article of traffic with them : 
they collect it from the trees, dry and pick it, and then 
sell it to the people in Darien for mattresses, sofas, and 
all sorts of stuffing purposes, which, in my opinion, it an- 
swers better than any other material whatever that I am 
acquainted with, being as light as horse-hair, as springy 
and elastic, and a great deal less harsh and rigid. It is 

now bedtime, dear E , and I doubt not it has been 

sleepy time with you over this letter long ere you came 
thus far. There is a preliminary to my repose, however, 
in this agreeable residence, which I rather dread, namely, 
the hunting for, or discovering without hunting, in fine 
relief upon the whitewashed walls of my bedroom, a most 

}W ^ee^-l _ cvovJV)ec4 e d <J e o {— 

*\e- X ?> I a ^ J 


hideous and detestable species of reptile called centipedes, 
which come out of the cracks and crevices of the walls, 
and fill my very heart with dismay. They are from an 
inch to two inches long, and appear to have not a hund- 
red, but a thousand legs. I can not ascertain very cer- 
tainly from the negroes whether they sting or not, but 
they look exceedingly as if they might, and I visit my 
babies every night in fear and trembling, lest I should 
find one or more of these hateful creatures mounting 
guard over them. Good-night ; you are well to be free 
from centipedes — better to be free from slaves. 

Dear E , — This morning I paid my second visit to 

the Infirmary, and found there had been some faint at- 
tempt at sweeping and cleaning, in compliance with my 
entreaties. The poor woman Harriet, however, whose 
statement with regard to the impossibility of their attend- 
ing properly to their children had been so vehemently 
denied by the overseer, was crying bitterly. I asked her 
what ailed her, when, more by signs and dumb show than 

words, she and old Rose informed me that Mr. O had 

flogged her that morning for having told me that the 
women had not time to keep their children clean. It is 
part of the regular duty of every overseer to visit the In- 
firmary at least once a day, which he generally does in 

the morning, and Mr. O 's visit had preceded mine 

but a short time only, or I might have been edified by 
seeing a man horsewhip a woman. I again and again 
made her repeat her story, and she again and again 
affirmed that she had been flogged for what she told me, 
none of the whole company in the room denying it or 
contradicting her. I left the room because I was so dis- 
gusted and indignant that I could hardly restrain my feel- 
ings, and to express them could have produced no single 


good result. In the next ward, stretched upon the 
ground, apparently either asleep or so overcome with 
sickness as to be incapable of moving, lay an immense 
woman; her stature, as she cumbered the earth, must 
have been, I should think, five feet seven or eight, and 
her bulk enormous. She was wrapped in filthy rags, and 
lay with her face on the floor. As I approached, and 
stooped to see what ailed her, she suddenly threw out 
her arms, and, seized with violent convulsions, rolled over 
and over upon the floor, beating her head violently upon 
the ground, and throwing her enormous lirubs about in a 
horrible manner. Immediately upon the occurrence of 
this fit, four or five women threw themselves literally 
upon her, and held her down by main force ; they even 
proceeded to bind her legs and arms together, to prevent 
her dashing herself about ; but this violent coercion and 
tight bandaging seemed to me, in my profound igno- 
rance, more likely to increase her illness by impeding her 
breathing and the circulation of her blood, and I bade them 
desist, and unfasten all the strings and ligatures not only 
that they had put round her limbs, but which, by tighten- 
ing her clothes round her body, caused any obstruction. 
How much I wished that, instead of music, and dancing, 
and such stuff, I had learned something of sickness and 
health, of the conditions and liabilities of the human 
body, that I might have known how to assist this poor 
creature, and to direct her ignorant and helpless nurses ! 
The fit presently subsided, and was succeeded by the 
most deplorable prostration and weakness of nerves, the 
tears streaming down the poor woman's cheeks in show- 
ers, without, however, her uttering a single word, though 
she moaned incessantly. After bathing her forehead, 
hands, and chest with vinegar, we raised her up, and I 
sent to the house for a chair with a back (there was no 
such thing in the hospital), and we contrived to place her 


in it. I have seldom seen finer women than this poor 
creature and her younger sister, an immense strapping 
lass called Chloe — tall, straight, and extremely well 
made — who was assisting her sister, and whom I had re- 
marked, for the extreme delight and merriment which my 
cleansing propensities seemed to give her, on my last 
visit to the hospital. She was here taking care of a sick 
baby, and helping to nurse her sister Molly, who, it seems, 
is subject to those fits, about which I spoke to our phy- 
sician here — an intelligent man residing in Darien, who 
visits the estate whenever medical assistance is required. 
He seemed to attribute them to nervous disorder, brought 
on by frequent childbearing. This woman is young, I sup- 
pose at the outside not thirty, and her sister informed me 

that she had had ten children — ten children, E ! Fits 

and hard labor in the fields, unpaid labor, labor exacted 
with stripes — how do you fancy that ? I wonder if my 
mere narration can make your blood boil as the facts did 
mine? Among the patients in this room was a young 
girl, apparently from fourteen to fifteen, whose hands and 
feet were literally rotting away piecemeal, from the effect 
of a horrible disease, to which the negroes are subject 
here, and I believe in the West Indies, and when it at- 
tacks the joints of the toes and fingers, the pieces abso- 
lutely decay and come off, leaving the limb a maimed and 
horrible stump ! I believe no cure is known for this dis- 
gusting malady, which seems confined to these poor crea- 
tures. Another disease, of which they complained much, 
and which, of course, I was utterly incapable of account- 
ing for, was a species of lock-jaw, to which their babies 
very frequently fall victims in the first or second week 
after their birth, refusing the breast, and the mouth grad- 
ually losing the power of opening itself. The horrible 
diseased state of head, common among their babies, is a 
mere result of filth and confinement, and therefore, though 


I never any where saw such distressing and disgusting ob- 
jects as some of these poor little woolly skulls presented, 
the cause was sufficiently obvious. Pleurisy, or a tend- 
ency to it, seems very common among them ; also peri- 
pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs, which is terribly 
prevalent, and generally fatal. Rheumatism is almost 
universal ; and as it proceeds from exposure, and want of 
knowledge and care, attacks indiscriminately the young 
and old. A great number of the women are victims to 
falling of the womb and weakness in the spine ; but these 
are necessary results of their laborious existence, and do 
not belong either to climate or constitution. 

I have ingeniously contrived to introduce bribery, cor- 
ruption, and pauperism, all in a breath, upon this island, 
which, until my advent, was as innocent of these pollu- 
tions, I suppose, as Prospero's isle of refuge. Wishing, 
however, to appeal to some perception, perhaps a little 
less dim in their minds than the abstract loveliness of 
cleanliness, I have proclaimed to all the little baby nurses 
that I will give a cent to every little boy or girl whose 
baby's face shall be clean, and one to every individual with 
clean face and hands of their own. My appeal was fully- 
comprehended by the majority, it seems, for this morn- 
ing I was surrounded, as soon as I came out, by a swarm 
of children carrying their little charges on their backs 
and in their arms, the shining, and, in many instances, wet 
faces and hands of the latter bearing ample testimony to 
the ablutions which had been inflicted upon them. How 
they will curse me and the copper cause of all their woes 
in their baby bosoms ! Do you know that, little as grown 
negroes are admirable for their personal beauty (in my 
opinion, at least), the black babies of a year or two old 
are very pretty ; they have, for the most part, beautiful 
eyes and eyelashes, the pearly perfect teeth, which they 
retain after their other juvenile graces have left them ; 


their skins are all (I mean of blacks generally) infinitely 
finer and softer than the skins of white people. Perhaps 
you are not aware that among the white race the Jinest 
grained skins generally belong to persons of dark com- 
plexion. This, as a characteristic of the black race, I think 
might be accepted as some compensation for the coarse 
woolly hair. The nose and mouth, which are so peculiar- 
ly displeasing in their conformation in the face of a negro 
man or woman, being the features least developed in a 
baby's countenance, do not at first present the ugliness 
which they assume as they become more marked; and 
when the very unusual operation of washing has been per- 
formed, the blood shines through the fine texture of the 
skin, giving life and richness to the dingy color, and dis- 
playing a species of beauty which I think scarcely any 
body who observed it would fail to acknowledge. I have 
seen many babies on this plantation who were quite as 
pretty as white children, and this very day stooped to kiss 
a little sleeping creature that lay on its mother's knees in 
the Infirmary — as beautiful a specimen of a sleeping infant 
as I ever saw. The caress excited the irrepressible de- 
light of all the women present — poor creatures ! who seem- 
ed to forget that I was a woman, and had children myself, 
and bore a woman's and a mother's heart toward them 
and theirs ; but, indeed, the Honorable Mr. Slumkey could 
not have achieved more popularity by his performances in 
that line than I by this exhibition of feeling; and, had the 
question been my election, I am very sure nobody else 
would have had a chance of a vote through the island. 
But wisely is it said that use is second nature, and the 
contempt and neglect to which these poor people are used 
make the commonest expression of human sympathy ap- 
pear a boon and gracious condescension. While I am 
speaking of the negro countenance, there is another beau- 
ty which is not at all unfrequent among those I see here 


— a finely-shaped oval face — and those who know (as all 
painters and sculptors, all who understand beauty do) how 
much expression there is in the outline of the head, and 
how very rare it is to see a well-formed face, will be apt 
to consider this a higher matter than any coloring, of 
which, indeed, the red and white one so often admired is 
by no means the most rich, picturesque, or expressive. 
At first the dark color confounded all features to my eye, 
and I could hardly tell one face from another. Becom- 
ing, however, accustomed to the complexion, I now per- 
ceive all the variety among these black countenances that 
there is among our own race, and as much difference in 
features and in expression as among the same number of 
whites. There is another peculiarity which I have re- 
marked among the women here — very considerable beau- 
ty in the make of the hands ; their feet are very generally 
ill made, which must be a natural, and not an acquired de- 
fect, as they seldom injure their feet by wearing shoes. 
The figures of some of the women are handsome, and their 
carriage, from the absence of any confining or tighten- 
ing clothing, and the habit they have of balancing great 
weights on their heads, erect and good. 

At the upper end of the row of houses, and nearest to 
our overseer's residence, is the hut of the head driver. 
Let me explain, by the way, his office. The negroes, as I 
before told you, are divided into troops or gangs, as they 
are called ; at the head of each gang is a driver, who stands 
over them, whip in hand, while they perform their daily 
task, who renders an account of each individual slave and 
his work every evening to the overseer, and receives from 
him directions for their next day's tasks. Each driver is 
allowed to inflict a dozen lashes upon any refractory slave 
in the field, and at the time of the offense ; they may not, 
however, extend the chastisement, and if it is found inef- 
fectual, their remedy lies in reporting the unmanageable 


individual either to the head driver or the overseer, the 
former of whom has power to inflict three dozen lashes at 
his own discretion, and the latter as many as he himself 
sees fit, within the number of fifty ; which limit, however, 
I must tell you, is an arbitrary one on this plantation, ap- 
pointed by the founder of the estate, Major , Mr. 

's grandfather, many of whose regulations, indeed I 

believe most of them, are still observed in the govern- 
ment of the plantation. Limits of this sort, however, to 
the power of either driver, head driver, or overseer, may 
or may not exist elsewhere ; they are, to a certain degree, 
a check upon the power of these individuals ; but in the 
absence of the master, the overseer may confine himself 
within the limit or not, as he chooses ; and as for the mas- 
ter himself, where is his limit ? He may, if he likes, flog 
a slave to death, for the laws which pretend that he may 
not are a mere pretense, inasmuch as the testimony of a 
black is never taken against a white ; and upon this plan- 
tation of ours, and a thousand more, the overseer is the 
only white man, so whence should come the testimony to 
any crime of his ? With regard to the oft-repeated state- 
ment that it is not the owner's interest to destroy his hu- 
man property, it answers nothing ; the instances in which 
men, to gratify the immediate impulse of passion, sacri- 
fice not only their eternal, but their evident, palpable, pos- 
itive worldly interest, are infinite. Nothing is commoner 
than for a man under the transient influence of anger to 
disregard his worldly advantage ; and the black slave, 
whose preservation is indeed supposed to be his owner's 
interest, may be, will be, and is occasionally sacrificed to 
the blind impulse of passion. 

To return to our head driver, or, as he is familiarly 
called, head man, Frank — he is second in authority only 
to the overseer, and exercises rule alike over the drivers 
and the gangs in the absence of the sovereign white man 


from the estate, which happens whenever Mr. O visits 

the other two plantations at Woodville and St. Simon's. 
He is sole master and governor of the island, appoints the 
work, pronounces punishments, gives permission to the 
men to leave the island (without it they never may do so), 
and exercises all functions of undisputed mastery over his 
fellow-slaves, for you will observe that all this while he is 
just as much a slave as any of the rest. Trustworthy, 
upright, intelligent, he may be flogged to-morrow if Mr. 

O or Mr. so please it, and sold the next day, like 

a cart-horse, at the will of the latter. Besides his various 
other responsibilities, he has the key of all the stores, and 
gives out the people's rations weekly ; nor is it only the 
people's provisions that are put under his charge — meat, 
which is only given out to them occasionally, and provi- 
sions for the use of the family, are also intrusted to his 
care. Thus you see, among these inferior creatures, their 
own masters yet look to find, surviving all their best ef- 
forts to destroy them, good sense, honesty, self-denial, and 
all the qualities, mental and moral, that make one man 
worthy to be trusted by another. From the impercepti- 
ble but inevitable effect of the sympathies and influences 
of human creatures toward and over each other, Frank's 
intelligence has become uncommonly developed by inti- 
mate communion in the discharge of his duty with the 
former overseer, a very intelligent man, who has only just 
left the estate, after managing it for nineteen years ; the 
effect of this intercourse, and of the trust and responsibil- 
ity laid upon the man, are that he is clear-headed, well 
judging, active, intelligent, extremely well mannered, and, 
being respected, he respects himself. He is as ignorant 
as the rest of the slaves ; but he is always clean and tidy 
in his person, with a courteousness of demeanor far re- 
moved from servility, and exhibits a strong instance of 
the intolerable and wicked injustice of the system under 


which he lives, having advanced thus far toward improve- 
ment, in spite of all the bars it puts to progress ; and here 
being arrested, not by want of energy, want of sense, or 
any want of his own, but by being held as another man's 
property, who can only thus hold him by forbidding him 
farther improvement. When I see that man, who keeps 
himself a good deal aloof from the rest, in his leisure hours 
looking, with a countenance of deep thought, as I did to- 
day, over the broad river, which is to him as a prison wall, 
to the fields and forest beyond, not one inch or branch of 
which his utmost industry can conquer as his own, or ac- 
quire and leave an independent heritage to his children, I 
marvel what the thoughts of such a man may be. I was 
in his house to-day, and the same superiority in cleanli- 
ness, comfort, and propriety exhibited itself in his dwell- 
ing as in his own personal appearance and that of his wife 
— a most active, trustworthy, excellent woman, daughter 
of the oldest, and probably most highly respected of all 
Mr. 's slaves. To the excellent conduct of this wom- 
an, and, indeed, every member of her family, both the pres- 
ent and the last overseer bear unqualified testimony. 

As I was returning toward the house after my long 
morning's lounge, a man rushed out of the blacksmith's 
shop, and, catching me by the skirt of my gown, poured 
forth a torrent of self-gratulations on having at length 
found the " right missis." They have no idea, of course, 
of a white person performing any of the offices of a serv- 
ant, and as throughout the whole Southern country the 
owner's children are nursed and tended, and sometimes 
suckled by their slaves (I wonder how this inferior milk 
agrees with the lordly white babies?), the appearance of 

M with my two children had immediately suggested 

the idea that she must be the missis. Many of the poor 
negroes flocked to her, paying their profound homage 
under this impression ; and when she explained to them 


that she was not their owner's wife, the confusion in their 
minds seemed very great — Heaven only knows whether 
they did not conclude that they had two mistresses, and 

Mr. two wives ; for the privileged race must seem, 

in their eyes, to have such absolute masterdom on earth, 
that perhaps they thought polygamy might be one of the 
sovereign white men's numerous indulgences. The ec- 
stasy of the blacksmith on discovering the "right missis" 
at last was very funny, and was expressed with such ex- 
traordinary grimaces, contortions, and gesticulations, that 
I thought I should have died of laughing at this raptur- 
ous identification of my most melancholy relation to the 
poor fellow. 

Having at length extricated myself from the group 
which forms round me whenever I stop but for a few 
minutes, I pursued my voyage of discovery by peeping 
into the kitchen garden. I dared do no more ; the aspect 
of the place would have rejoiced the very soul of Solo- 
mon's sluggard of old — a few cabbages and weeds innu- 
merable filled the neglected-looking inclosure, and I ven- 
tured no farther than the entrance into its most uninviting 
precincts. You are to understand that upon this swamp 
island of ours we have quite a large stock of cattle, cows, 
sheep, pigs, and poultry in the most enormous and incon- 
venient abundance. The cows are pretty miserably off 
for pasture, the banks and pathways of the dikes being 
their only grazing ground, which the sheep perambulate 
also, in earnest search of a nibble of fresh herbage ; both 
the cows and sheep are fed with rice flour in great abun- 
dance, and are pretty often carried down for change of 

air and more sufficient grazing to Hampton, Mr. 's 

estate, on the island of St. Simon's, fifteen miles from this 
place, farther down the river — or rather, indeed, I should 
say in the sea, for 'tis salt water all round, and one end of 
the island has a noble beach open to the vast Atlantic. 


The pigs thrive admirably here, and attain very great per- 
fection of size and flavor, the rice flour upon which they 
are chiefly fed tending to make them very delicate. As 
for the poultry, it being one of the few privileges of the 
poor blacks to raise as. many as they can, their abundance 
is literally a nuisance — ducks, fowls, pigeons, turkeys (the 
two latter species, by-the-by, are exclusively the master's 
property), cluck, scream, gabble, gobble, crow, cackle, 
fight, fly, and flutter in all directions, and to their im- 
mense concourse, and the perfect freedom with which 
they intrude themselves even into the piazza of the house, 
the pantry, and kitchen, I partly attribute the swarms of 
fleas, and other still less agreeable vermin, with which we 
are most horribly pestered. 

My walk lay to-day along the bank of a canal, which lias 
been dug through nearly the whole length of the island, 
to render more direct and easy the transportation of the 
rice from one end of the estate to another, or from the va- 
rious distant fields to the principal mill at Settlement No, 
1. It is of considerable width and depth, and opens by 
various locks** into the river. It has, unfortunately, no 
trees on its banks, but a good foot-path renders it, in spite 
of that deficiency, about the best walk on the island. I 
passed again to-day one of those beautiful evergreen thick- 
ets, which I described to you in my last letter ; it is call- 
ed a reserve, and is kept uncleared and uncultivated in its 
natural swampy condition, to allow of the people's pro- 
curing their firewood from it. I can not get accustomed, 
so as to be indifferent to this exquisite natural ornament- 
al growth, and think, as I contemplate the various and 
beautiful foliage of these watery woods, how many of our 
finest English parks and gardens owe their chiefest adorn- 
ments to plantations of these shrubs, procured at immense 
cost, reared with infinite pains and care, which are here 
basking in the winter's sunshine, waiting to be cut down 


for firewood ! These little groves are peopled with wild 
pigeons and birds, which they designate here as black- 
birds. These sometimes rise from the rice fields with a 
whirr of multitudinous wings that is almost startling, and 
positively overshadow the ground beneath like a cloud. 

I had a conversation that interested me a good deal, 
during my walk to-day, with my peculiar slave Jack. 

This lad, whom Mr. has appointed to attend me in 

my roamings about the island, and rowing expeditions on 
the river, is the son of the last head driver, a man of very 
extraordinary intelligence and faithfulness — such, at least, 
is the account given of him by his employers (in the buri- 
al-ground of the negroes is a stone dedicated to his mem- 
ory, a mark of distinction accorded by his masters, which 
his son never failed to point out to me when we passed 
that way). Jack appears to inherit his quickness of ap- 
prehension ; his questions, like those of an intelligent 
child, are absolutely inexhaustible ; his curiosity about all 
things beyond this island, the prison-house of his exist- 
ence, is perfectly intense ; his countenance is very pleas- 
ing, mild, and not otherwise than thoughtful ; he is, in 
common with the rest of them, a stupendous flatterer, and, 
like the rest of them, also seems devoid of physical and 
moral courage. To-day, in the midst of his torrent of in- 
quiries about places and things, I suddenly asked him if 
he would like to be free. A gleam of light absolutely 
shot over his whole countenance, like the vivid and in- 
stantaneous lightning ; he stammered, hesitated, became 
excessively confused, and at length replied, " Free, missis ! 
what for me wish to be free ? Oh no, missis, me no wish 
to be free, if massa only let we keep pig !" The fear of 
offending by uttering that forbidden wish — the dread of 
admitting, by its expression, the slightest discontent with 
his present situation — the desire to conciliate my favor, 
even at the expense of strangling the intense natural long- 





old +- iooci - Cy-cS t- 


ing that absolutely glowed in his every feature — it was a 
sad spectacle, and I repented my question. As for the 
pitiful request, which he reiterated several times, adding, 
"No, missis, me no want to be free; me work till me 
die for missis and massa," with increased emphasis; it 
amounted only to this, that negroes once were, but no 
longer are, permitted to keep pigs. The increase of filth 
and foul smells consequent upon their being raised is, of 

course, very great ; and, moreover, Mr. told me, 

when I preferred poor Jack's request to him, that their 
allowance was no more than would suffice their own ne- 
cessity, and that they had not the means of feeding the 
animals. With a little good management they might 
very easily obtain them, however ; their little " kail-yard" 
alone would suffice to it, and the pork and bacon would 
prove a most welcome addition to their farinaceous diet. 
You perceive at once (or, if you could have seen the boy's 
face, you would have perceived at once) that his situation 

was no mystery to him ; that his value to Mr. , and, as 

he supposed, to me, was perfectly well known to him, and 
that he comprehended immediately that his expressing 
even the desire to be free might be construed by me into 
an offense, and sought, by eager protestations of his de- 
lighted acquiescence in slavery, to conceal his soul's nat- 
ural yearning, lest I should resent it. 'Twas a sad pas- 
sage between us, and sent me home full of the most pain- 
ful thoughts. I told Mr. , with much indignation, of 

poor Harriet's flogging, and represented that if the peo- 
ple were to be chastised for any thing they said to me, I 
must leave the place, as I could not but hear their com- 
plaints, and endeavor, by all my miserable limited means, 
to better their condition while I was here. He said he 

would ask Mr. O about it, assuring me, at the same 

time, that it was impossible to believe a single word any 
of these people said. At dinner, accordingly, the inquiry 



was made as to the cause of her punishment, and Mr. 

O then said it was not at all for what she had told 

me that he had flogged her, but for having answered him 
impertinently; that he had ordered her into the field, 
whereupon she had said she was ill and could not work ; 
that he retorted he knew better, and bade her get up and 
go to work; she replied, "Very well, I'll go, but I shall 
just come back again !" meaning that when in the field 
she would be unable to work, and obliged to return to the 

hospital. " For this reply," Mr. O said, " I gave her 

a good lashing ; it was her business to have gone into the 
field without answering me, and then we should have 
soon seen whether she could work or not ; I gave it to 
Ghloe too for some such impudence." I give you the 
words of the conversation, which ^as prolonged to a great 
length, the overseer complaining of the sham sicknesses 
of the slaves, and detailing the most disgusting struggle 
which is going on the whole time, on the one hand to in- 
flict, and on the other to evade oppression and injustice. 
With this sauce I ate my dinner, and truly it tasted bit- 

Toward sunset I went on the river to take my rowing 
lesson. A darling little canoe, which carries two oars and 
a steersman, and rejoices in the appropriate title of the 
" Dolphin," is my especial vessel ; and with Jack's help 
and instructions, I contrived this evening to row upward 
of half a mile, coasting the reed-crowned edge of the isl- 
and to another very large rice mill, the enormous wheel 
of which is turned by the tide. A small bank of mud and 
sand, covered with reedy coarse grass, divides the river 
into two arms on this side of the island ; the deep chan- 
nel is on the outside of this bank, and as we rowed home 
this evening, the tide having fallen, we scraped sand al- 
most the whole way. Mr. 's domain, it seems to me, 

will presently fill up this shallow stream, and join itself to 


the above-mentioned mud-bank. The whole course of 
this most noble river is full of shoals, banks, mud, and 
sand-bars, and the navigation, which is difficult to those 
who know it well, is utterly baffling to the inexperienced. 
The fact is, that the two elements are so fused hereabouts 
that there are hardly such things as earth or water proper; 
that which styles itself the former is a fat, muddy, slimy 
sponge, that, floating half under the turbid river, looks yet 
saturated with the thick waves which every now and then 
reclaim their late dominion, and cover it almost entirely ; 
the water, again, cloudy and yellow, like pea-soup, seems 
but a solution of such islands, rolling turbid and thick 
with alluvium, which it both gathers and deposits as it 
sweeps along with a swollen, smooth rapidity, that almost 
deceives the eye. Amphibious creatures, alligators, ser- 
pents, and wild-fowl haunt these yet but half-formed re- 
gions, where land and water are of the consistency of 
hasty-pudding — the one seeming too unstable to walk on, 
the other almost too thick to float in. But then the sky 
— if no human chisel ever yet cut breath, neither did any 
human pen ever write light ; if it did, mine should spread 
out before you the unspeakable glories of these Southern 
heavens, the saffron brightness of morning, the blue in- 
tense brilliancy of noon, the golden splendor and the rosy 
softness of sunset. Italy and Claude Lorraine may go 
hang themselves together ! Heaven itself does not seem 
brighter or more beautiful to the imagination than these 
surpassing pageants of fiery rays, and piled-up beds of or- 
ange, golden clouds, with edges too bright to look on, 
scattered wreaths of faintest rosy bloom, amber streaks 
and pale green lakes between, and amid sky all mingled 
blue and rose tints, a spectacle to make one fall over the 
side of the boat, with one's head broken off with looking 
adoringly upward, but which, on paper, means nothing. 
At six o'clock our little canoe grazed the steps at the 


landing. These were covered with young women, and 
boys, and girls, drawing water for their various household 
purposes. A very small cedar pail — a piggin as they 
termed it — serves to scoop up the river water ; and hav- 
ing, by this means, filled a large bucket, they transfer this 
to their heads, and, thus laden, march home with the puri- 
fying element — what to do with it I can not imagine, for 
evidence of its ever having been introduced into their 
dwellings I saw none. As I ascended the stairs, they sur- 
rounded me with shrieks and yells of joy, uttering excla- 
mations of delight and amazement at my rowing. Con- 
sidering that they dig, delve, carry burdens, and perform 
many more athletic exercises than pulling a light oar, I 
was rather amused at this ; but it was the singular fact 
of seeing a white woman stretch her sinews in any toil- 
some exercise which astounded them, accustomed as they 
are to see both men and women of the privileged skin es- 
chew the slightest shadow of labor as a thing not only 
painful, but degrading. They will learn another lesson 
from me, however, whose idea of heaven was pronounced 
by a friend of mine, to whom I once communicated it, to 
be " devilish hard work !" It was only just six o'clock, 
and these women had all done their tasks. I exhorted 
them to go home and wash their children, and clean their 
houses and themselves, which they professed themselves 
ready to do, but said they had no soap. Then began a 
chorus of mingled requests for soap, for summer clothing, 
and a variety of things, which, if " Missis only give we, 
we be so clean forever !" 

This request for summer clothing, by-the-by, I think a 
very reasonable one. The allowance of clothes made year- 
ly to each slave by the present regulations of the estate is 
a certain number of yards of flannel, and as much more 
of what they call plains — an extremely stout, thick, heavy 
woolen cloth, of a dark gray or blue color, which resem- 


bles the species of carpet we call drugget. This, and two 
pair of shoes, is the regular ration of clothing ; but these 
plains would be intolerable to any but negroes, even in 
winter, in this climate, and are intolerable to them in the 
summer. A far better arrangement, in my opinion, would 
be to increase their allowance of flannel and under cloth- 
ing, and to give them dark chintzes instead of these thick 
carpets, which are very often the only covering they wear 
at all. I did not impart all this to my petitioners, but, 
disengaging myself from them, for they held my hands 
and clothes, I conjured them to offer us some encourage- 
ment to better their condition by bettering it as much as 
they could themselves — enforced the virtue of washing 
themselves and all belonging to them, and at length made 
good my retreat. As there is no particular reason why 
such a letter as this should ever come to an end, I had bet- 
ter spare you for the present. You shall have a faithful 
journal, I promise you, henceforward, as hitherto, from 
yours ever. 

Dear E , — We had a species of fish this morning 

for our breakfast which deserves more glory than I can 
bestow upon it. Had I been the ingenious man who wrote 
a poem upon fish, the white mullet of the Altamaha should 
have been at least my heroine's cousin. 'Tis the heaven- 
liest creature that goes upon fins. I took a long walk 
this morning to Settlement No. 3, the third village on the 
island. My way lay along the side of the canal, beyond 
which, and only divided from it by a raised narrow cause- 
way, rolled the brimming river, with its girdle of glitter- 
ing evergreens, while on my other hand a deep trench 
marked the line of the rice fields. It really seemed as if 
the increase of merely a shower of rain might join all these 
waters together, and lay the island under its original cov- 


ering again. I visited the people and houses here. I 
found nothing in any respect different from what I have 
described to you at Settlement No. 1. During the course 
of my walk, I startled from its repose in one of the rice 
fields a huge blue heron. You must have seen, as I often 
have, these creatures stuffed in museums ; but 'tis another 
matter, and far more curious, to see them stalking on their 
stilts of legs over a rice field, and then, on your near ap- 
proach, see them spread their wide heavy wings, and throw 
themselves upon the air, with their long shanks flying 
after them in a most grotesque and laughable manner. 
They fly as if they did not know how to do it very well ; 
but standing still, their height (between four and five feet) 
and peculiar color, a dusky, grayish blue, with black about 
the head, render their appearance very beautiful and strik- 

In the afternoon I and Jack rowed ourselves over to 
Darien. It is Saturday — the day of the week on which 
the slaves from the island are permitted to come over to 
the town to purchase such things as they may require and 
can afford, and to dispose, to the best advantage, of their 
poultry, moss, and eggs. I met many of them paddling 
themselves singly in their slight canoes, scooped out of 
the trunk of a tree, and parties of three and four rowing 
boats of their own building, laden with their purchases, 
singing, laughing, talking, and apparently enjoying their 
holiday to the utmost. They all hailed me with shouts 
of delight as I pulled past them, and many were the in- 
junctions bawled after Jack to " mind and take good care 
of missis !" "We returned home through the glory of a 
sunset all amber-colored and rosy, and found that one of 

the slaves, a young lad for whom Mr. has a particular 

regard, was dangerously ill. Dr. H-^- — was sent for ; and 

there is every probability that he, Mr. , and Mr. O 

will be up all night with the poor fellow. I shall write 


more to-morrow. To-day being Sunday, dear E , a 

large boat full of Mr. 's people from Hampton came 

up, to go to church at Darien, and to pay their respects 
to their master, and see their new " missis." The same 
scene was acted over again that Occurred on our first ar- 
rival. A crowd clustered round the house door, to whom 
I and my babies were produced, and with every individ- 
ual of whom we had to shake hands some half a dozen 
times. They brought us up presents of eggs (their only 
wealth), beseeching us to take them; and one young lad, 
the son of head man Frank, had a beautiful pair of chick- 
ens, which he offered most earnestly to S . We took 

one of them, not to mortify the poor fellow, and a green 
ribbon being tied round its leg, it became a sacred fowl, 
" little missis's chicken." By-the-by, this young man had 
so light a complexion, and such regular straight features, 
that, had I seen him any where else, I should have taken 
him for a southern European, or, perhaps, in favor of his 
tatters, a gipsy ; but certainly it never would have occur- 
red to me that he was the son of negro parents. I ob- 
served this to Mr. , who merely replied, " He is the 

son of head man Frank and his wife Betty, and they are 
both black enough, as you see." The expressions of de- 
votion and delight of these poor people are the most fer- 
vent you can imagine. One of them, speaking to me of 

Mr. , and saying that they had heard that he had not 

been well, added, " Oh ! we hear so, missis, and we not 
know what to do. Oh ! missis, massa sick, all him people 
broken /" 

Dr. H came again to-day to see the poor sick boy, 

who is doing much better, and bidding fair to recover. 
He entertained me with an account of the Darien society, 
its aristocracies and democracies, its little grandeurs and 
smaller pettinesses, its circles higher and lower, its social 
jealousies, fine invisible lines of demarkation, impercepti- 


ble shades of different respectability, and delicate divisions 
of genteel, genteeler, genteelest. " For me," added the 
worthy doctor, " I can not well enter into the spirit of 
these nice distinctions ; it suits neither my taste nor my 
interest, and my house is, perhaps, the only one in Darien 
where you would find all these opposite and contending 
elements combined." The doctor is connected with the 
aristocracy of the place, and, like a wise man, remembers, 
notwithstanding, that those who are not are quite as lia- 
ble to be ill, and call in medical assistance, as those who 
are. He is a shrewd, intelligent man, with an excellent 
knowledge of his profession, much kindness of heart, and 
apparent cheerful good temper. I have already severely 
tried*the latter by the unequivocal expression of my opin- 
ions on the subject of slavery, and, though I perceived 
that it required all his self-command to listen with any 
thing like patience to my highly incendiary and inflamma- 
tory doctrines, he yet did so, and though he was, I have 
no doubt, perfectly horror-stricken at the discovery, lost 
nothing of his courtesy or good-humor. By-the-by, I must 
tell you that, at an early period of the conversation, upon 
my saying, " I put all other considerations out of the ques- 
tion, and first propose to you the injustice of the system 
alone," " Oh," replied my friend the doctor, " if you put 
it upon that ground, you stump the question at once ; I 
have nothing to say to" that whatever, but," and then fol- 
lowed the usual train of pleadings— happiness, tenderness, 
care, indulgence, etc., etc., etc. — all the substitutes that 
may or may not be put in the place of justice, and which 
these slaveholders attempt to persuade others, and per- 
haps themselves, effectually supply its want. After church 
hours the people came back from Darien. They are only 
permitted to go to Darien to church once a month. On 
the intermediate Sundays they assemble-in the house of 
London, Mr. — — 's head cooper, an excellent and pious 


man, who, Heaven alone knows how, has obtained some 
little knowledge of reading, and who reads prayers and 
the Bible to his fellow-slaves, and addresses them with ex- 
temporaneous exhortations. I have the greatest desire 
to attend one of these religious meetings, but fear to put 
the people under any, the slightest restraint. However, I 
shall see by-and-by how they feel about it themselves. 

You have heard, of course, many and contradictory 
statements as to the degree of religious instruction af- 
forded to the negroes of the South, and their opportuni- 
ties of worship, etc. Until the late abolition movement, 
the spiritual interests of the slaves were about as little re- 
garded as their physical necessities. The outcry which 
has been raised with threefold force within the last few 
years against the whole system has induced its upholders 
and defenders to adopt, as measures of personal extenua- 
tion, some appearance of religious instruction (such as it 
is), and some pretense at physical indulgences (such as 
they are), bestowed apparently voluntarily upon their de- 
pendents. At Darien a church is appropriated to the 
especial use of the slaves, who are almost all of them 
Baptists here ; and a gentleman officiates in it (of course 
white), who, I understand, is very zealous in the cause of 
their spiritual well-being. He, like most Southern men, 
clergy or others, jump the present life in their charities 
to the slaves, and go on to furnish them with all requisite 
conveniences for the next. There were a short time ago 
two free black preachers in this neighborhood, but they 
have lately been ejected from the place. I could not 
clearly learn, but one may possibly imagine, upon what 

I do not think that a residence on a slave plantation is 
likely to be peculiarly advantageous to a child like my 
eldest. I was observing her to-day among her swarthy 
worshipers, for they follow her as such, and saw, with dis- 



may, the universal eagerness with which they sprang to 
obey her little gestures of command. She said something 
about a swing, and in less than five minutes head man 
Frank had erected it for her, and a dozen young slaves 
were ready to swing little "missis." , think of learn- 
ing to rule despotically your fellow-creatures before the 
first lesson of self-government has been well spelt over ! 
It makes me tremble ; but I shall find a remedy, or re- 
move myself and the child from this misery and ruin. 

You can not conceive any thing more grotesque than 
the Sunday trim of the poor people, their ideality, as Mr. 
Combe would say, being, I should think, twice as big as 
any rational bump in their head. Their Sabbath toilet 
really presents the most ludicrous combination of incon- 
gruities that you can conceive — frills, flounces, ribbons; 
combs stuck in their woolly heads, as if they held up any 
portion of the stiff and ungovernable hair ; filthy finery, 
every color in the rainbow, and the deepest possible shades 
blended in fierce companionship round one dusky visage ; 
head-handkerchiefs, that put one's very eyes out from a 
mile off; chintzes with sprawling patterns, that might be 
seen if the clouds were printed with them ; beads, bugles, 
flaring sashes, and, above all, little fanciful aprons, which 
finish these incongruous toilets with a sort of airy grace, 
which I assure you is perfectly indescribable. One young 
man, the eldest son and heir of our washerwoman Hannah, 
came to pay his respects to me in a magnificent black satin 
waistcoat, shirt gills which absolutely ingulfed his black 
visage, and neither shoes nor stockings on his feet. 

Among our visitors from St. Simon's to-day was Han- 
nah's mother (it seems to me that there is not a girl of 
sixteen on the plantations but has children, nor a woman 
of thirty but has grandchildren). Old House Molly, as 
she is called, from the circumstance of her having been 
one of the slaves employed in domestic offices during Ma- 


jor 's residence on the island, is one of the oldest and 

most respected slaves on the estate, and. was introduced 

to me by Mr. : with especial marks of attention and 

regard ; she absolutely embraced him, and seemed unable 
sufficiently to express her ecstasy at seeing him again. 
Her dress, like that of her daughter, and all the servants 
who have at any time been employed about the family, 
bore witness to a far more improved taste than the half 
savage adornment of the other poor blacks, and upon my 
observing to her how agreeable her neat and cleanly ap- 
pearance was to me, she replied that her old master (Ma- 
jor ) was extremely particular in this respect, and 

that in his time all the house servants were obliged to be 
very nice and careful about their persons. 

She named to me all her children, an immense tribe ; 

and, by-the-by, E , it has occurred to me that whereas 

the increase of this ill-fated race is frequently adduced as 
a proof of their good treatment and well being, it really 
and truly is no such thing, and springs from quite other 
causes than the peace and plenty which a rapidly increas- 
ing population are supposed to indicate. If you will re- 
flect for a moment upon the overgrown families of the 
half-starved Irish peasantry and English manufacturers, 
you will agree with me that these prolific shoots by no 
means necessarily spring from a rich or healthy soil. 
Peace and plenty are certainly causes of human increase, 
and so is recklessness ; and this, I take it, is the impulse 
in the instance of the English manufacturer, the Irish peas- 
ant, and the negro slave. Indeed here it is more than 
recklessness, for there are certain indirect premiums held 
out to obey the early commandment of replenishing the 
earth which do not fail to have their full effect. In the 
first place, none of the cares— those noble cares, that holy 
thoughtfulness which lifts the human above the brute 
parent, are ever incurred here by either father or mother. 


The relation indeed resembles, as far as circumstances can 
possibly make it do so, the short-lived connection between 
the animal and its young. The father, having neither au- 
thority, power, responsibility, or charge in his children, is 
of course, as among brutes, the least attached to his off- 
spring ; the mother, by the natural law which renders the 
infant dependent on her for its first year's nourishment, is 
more so ; but as neither of them is bound to educate or 
to support their children, all the unspeakable tenderness 
and solemnity, all the rational, and all the spiritual grace 
and glory of the connection, is lost, and it becomes mere 
breeding, bearing, suckling, and there an end. But it is 
not only the absence of the conditions which God has af- 
fixed to the relation which tends to encourage the reckless 
increase of the race ; they enjoy, by means of numerous 
children, certain positive advantages. In the first place, 
every woman who is pregnant, as soon as she chooses to 
make the fact known to the overseer, is relieved of a cer- 
tain portion of her work in the field, which lightening of 
labor continues, of course, as long as she is so burdened. 
On the birth of a child certain additions of clothing and 
an additional weekly ration are bestowed on the family ; 
and these matters, small as they may seem, act as power- 
ful inducements to creatures who have none of the restrain- 
ing influences actuating them which belong to the parent- 
al relation among all other people, whether civilized or 
savage. Moreover, they have all of them a most distinct 
and perfect knowledge of their value to their owners as 
property ; and a woman thinks, and not much amiss, that 
the more frequently she adds to the number of her mas- 
ter's live-stock by bringing new slaves into the world, the 
more claims she will have upon his consideration and 
good-will. This was perfectly evident to me from the 
meritorious air with which the women always made haste 
to inform me of the number of children they had borne, 


and the frequent occasions on which the older slaves would 
direct my attention to their children, exclaiming, " Look, 
missis ! little niggers for you and massa ; plenty little nig- 
gers for you and little missis !" A very agreeable apos- 
trophe to me indeed, as you will believe. 

I have let this letter lie for a day or two, dear E , 

from press of more immediate avocations. I have noth- 
ing very particular to add to it. On Monday evening I 

rowed over to Darien with Mr. to fetch over the 

doctor, who was coming to visit some of our people. As 
I sat waiting in the boat for the return of the gentlemen, 
the sun went down, or rather seemed to dissolve bodily 
into the glowing clouds, which appeared but a fusion of 
the great orb of light ; the stars twinkled out in the rose- 
colored sky, and the evening air, as it fanned the earth to 
sleep, was as soft as a summer's evening breeze in the 
north. A sort of dreamy stillness seemed creeping over 
the world and into my spirit as the canoe just tilted 
against the steps that led to the wharf, raised by the 
scarce perceptible heaving of the water. A melancholy, 
monotonous boat-horn sounded from a distance up the 
stream, and presently, floating slowly down with the cur- 
rent, huge, shapeless, black, relieved against the sky, came 
one of those rough barges piled with cotton, called, here- 
abouts, Ocone boxes. The vessel itself is really nothing 
but a monstrous square box, made of rough planks, put 
together in the roughest manner possible to attain the 
necessary object of keeping the cotton dry. Upon this 
great tray are piled the swollen, apoplectic-looking cotton- 
bags, to the height often, twelve, and fourteen feet. This 
huge water-wagon floats lazily down the river, from the 
upper country to Darien. They are flat-bottomed, and, of 
course, draw little water. The stream from whence they 
are named is an up-country river, which, by its junction 
with the Ocmulgee, forms the Altamaha. Here at least, 


you perceive, the Indian names remain, and long may they 
do so, for they seem to me to become the very character 
of the streams and mountains they indicate, and are in- 
deed significant to the learned in savage tongues, which 
is more than can be said of such titles as Jones's Creek, 
Onion Creek, etc. These Ocone boxes are broken up at 
Darien, where the cotton is shipped either for the Savan- 
nah, Charleston, or Liverpool markets, and the timber of 
which they are constructed sold. 

We rowed the doctor over to see some of his patients 
on the island, and before his departure a most animated 
discussion took place upon the subject of the President of 
the United States, his talents, qualifications, opinions — 
above all, his views with regard to the slave system. Mr. 
, who you know is no abolitionist, and is a very de- 
voted Van Buren man, maintained with great warmth the 
President's straightforwardness, and his evident and ex- 
pressed intention of protecting the rights of the South. 
The doctor, on the other hand, quoted a certain speech of 
the President's upon the question of abolishing slavery in 
the District of Columbia, which his fears interpreted into 
a mere evasion of the matter, and an indication that at 
some future period he (Mr. Van Buren) might take a dif- 
ferent view of the subject. I confess, for my own part, 
that if the doctor quoted the speech right, and if the Presi- 
dent is not an honest man, and if I were a Southern slave- 
holder, I should not feel altogether secure of Mr. Van Bu- 
ren's present opinions or future conduct upon this subject. 
These three ifs, however, are material points of consider- 
ation. Our friend the doctor inclined vehemently to Mr. 
Clay as one on whom the slaveholders could depend. 
Georgia, however, as a state, is perhaps the most demo- 
cratic in the Union ; though here, as well as in other places 
that you and I know of, a certain class, calling themselves 
the first, and honestly believing themselves the best, set 


their faces against the modern fashioned republicanism, 
professing, and, I have no doubt, with great .sincerity, that 
their ideas of democracy are altogether of a different kind. 
I went again to-day to the Infirmary, and was happy to 
perceive that there really was an evident desire to conform 
to my instructions, and keep the place in a better condi- 
tion than formerly. Among the sick I found a poor wom- 
an suffering dreadfully from the earache. She had done 
nothing to alleviate her pain but apply some leaves, of 
what tree or plant I could not ascertain, and tie up her 
head in a variety of dirty cloths, till it was as large as her 
whole body. I removed all these, and found one side of 
her face and neck very much swollen, but so begrimed 
with filth that it was really no very agreeable task to ex- 
amine it. The first process, of course, was washing, which, 
however, appeared to her so very unusual an operation, 
that I had to perform it for her myself. Sweet oil and 
laudanum, and raw cotton, being then applied to her ear 
and neck, she professed herself much relieved, but I be- 
lieve in my heart that the warm water sponging had done 
her more good than any thing else. I was sorry not to 
ascertain what leaves she had applied to her ear. These 
simple remedies resorted to by savages, and people as ig- 
norant, are generally approved by experience, and some- 
times condescendingly adopted by science. I remember 

once, when Mr. was suffering from a severe attack of 

inflammatory rheumatism, Dr. C- desired him to bind 

round his knee the leaves of the tulip-tree — poplar I be- 
lieve you call it — saying that he had learned that remedy 
from the negroes in Virginia, and found it a most effectual 
one. My next agreeable office in the Infirmary this morn- 
ing was superintending the washing of two little babies, 
whose mothers were nursing them with quite as much ig- 
norance as zeal. Having ordered a large tub of water, I 
desired Rose to undress the little creatures and give them 


a warm bath; the mothers looked on in unutterable dis- 
may; and one of them, just as her child was going to be 
put into the tub, threw into it all the clothes she had just 
taken off it, as she said, to break the unusual shock of the 
warm water. I immediately rescued them ; not but what 
they were quite as much in want of washing as the baby, 
but it appeared, upon inquiry, that the woman had none 
others to dress the child in when it should have taken its 
bath ; they were immediately wrung and hung by the fire 
to dry ; and the poor little patients, having undergone this 
novel operation, were taken out and given to their moth- 
ers. Any thing, however, much more helpless and ineffi- 
cient than these poor ignorant creatures you can not con- 
ceive ; they actually seemed incapable of drying or dress- 
ing their own babies, and I had to finish their toilet my- 
self. As it is only a very few years since the most absurd 
and disgusting customs have become exploded among 
ourselves, you will not, of course, wonder that these poor 
people pin up the lower part of their infants, bodies, legs, 
and all, in red flannel as soon as they are born, and keep 
them in the self-same envelope till it literally falls off. 

In the next room I found a woman lying on the floor in 
a fit of epilepsy, barking most violently. She seemed to 
excite no particular attention or compassion ; the women 
said she was subject to these fits, and took little or no no- 
tice of her, as she lay barking like some enraged animal 
on the ground. Again I stood in profound ignorance, 
sickening with the sight of suffering which I knew not 
how to alleviate, and which seemed to excite no commis- 
eration merely from the sad fact of its frequent occur- 
rence. Returning to the house, I passed up the " street." 
It was between eleven o'clock and noon, and the people 

were taking their first meal in the day. By-the-by, E , 

how do you think Berkshire county farmers would relish 
laboring hard all day upon two meals of Indian corn or 


hominy ? Such is the regulation on this plantation, how- 
ever, and I beg you to bear in mind that the negroes on 

Mr. 's estate are generally considered well off. They 

go to the fields at daybreak, carrying with them their al- 
lowance of food for the day, which toward noon, and not 
till then, they eat, cooking it over a fire, which they kin- 
dle as best they can, where they are working. Their sec- 
ond meal in the day is at night, after their labor is over, 
having worked, at the very least, six hours without inter- 
mission of rest or refreshment since their noonday meal 
(properly so called, for 'tis meal, and nothing else). Those 
that I passed to-day, sitting on their door-steps, or on the 
ground round them eating, were the people employed at 
the mill and threshing-floor. As these are near to the 
settlement, they had time to get their food from the cook- 
shop. Chairs, tables, plates, knives, forks, they had none ; 
they sat, as I before said, on the earth or door-steps, and 
ate either out of their little cedar tubs or an iron pot, 
some few with broken iron spoons, more with pieces of 
wood, and all the children with their fingers. A more 
complete sample of savage feeding I never beheld. At 
one of the doors I saw three young girls standing, who 
might be between sixteen and seventeen years old ; they 
had evidently done eating, and were rudely playing and 
romping with each other, laughing and shouting like wild 
things. I went into the house, and such another specta- 
cle of filthy disorder I never beheld. I then addressed 
the girls most solemnly, showing them that they were 
wasting in idle riot the time in which they might be ren- 
dering their abode decent, and told them that it was a 
shame for any woman to live in so dirty a place and so 
beastly a condition. They said they had seen buckree 
(white) women's houses just as dirty, and they could not 
be expected to be cleaner than white women. I then 
told them that the only difference between themselves and 


buckree women was, that the latter were generally better 
informed, and, for that reason alone, it was more disgrace- 
ful to them to be disorderly and dirty. They seemed to 
listen to me attentively, and one of them exclaimed, with 
great satisfaction, that they saw I made no difference be- 
tween them and white girls, and that they never had been 
so treated before. I do not know any thing which strikes 
me as a more melancholy illustration of the degradation 
of these people than the animal nature of their recreations 
in their short seasons of respite from labor. You see 
them, boys and girls, from the youngest age to seventeen 
and eighteen, rolling, tumbling, kicking, and wallowing in 
the dust, regardless alike of decency, and incapable of any 
more rational amusement ; or lolling, with half- closed 
eyes, like so many cats and dogs, against a wall, or upon 
a bank in the sun, dozing away their short leisure hour, 
until called to resume their labors in the field or the mill. 
After this description of the meals of our laborers, you 
will, perhaps, be curious to know how it fares with our 
house servants in this respect. Precisely in the same 
manner, as far as regards allowance, with the exception 
of what is left from our table, but, if possible, with even 
less comfort, in one respect, inasmuch as no time whatever 
is set apart for their meals, which they snatch at any hour, 
and in any way that they can — generally, however, stand- 
ing, or squatting on their hams round the kitchen fire. 
They have no sleeping-rooms in the house, but when their 
work is over, retire, like the rest, to their hovels, the dis- 
comfort of which has to them all the addition of compar- 
ison with our mode of living. Now, in all establishments 
whatever, of course some disparity exists between the 
comforts of the drawing-room and best bedrooms, and 
the servants' hall and attics, but here it is no longer a mat- 
ter of degree. The young woman who performs the of- 
fice of lady's-maid, and the lads who wait upon us at ta- 


ble, have neither table to feed at nor chair to sit down 
upon themselves. The boys sleep at night on the hearth 
by the kitchen fire, and the women upon a rough board 
bedstead, strewed with a little tree moss. All this shows 
how very torpid the sense of justice is apt to lie in the 
breasts of those who have it not awakened by the per- 
emptory demands of others. 

In the North we could not hope to keep the worst and 
poorest servant for a single day in the wretched discom- 
fort in which our negro servants are forced habitually to 
live. I received a visit this morning from some of the 
Darien people. Among them was a most interesting 
young person, from whose acquaintance, if I have any op- 
portunity of cultivating it, I promise myself much pleas- 
ure. The ladies that I have seen since I crossed the 
Southern line have all seemed to me extremely sickly in 
their appearance— delicate in the refined term, but unfor- 
tunately sickly in the truer one. They are languid in 
their deportment and speech, and seem to give themselves 
up, without an effort to counteract it, to the enervating 
effect of their warm climate. It is undoubtedly a most 
relaxing and unhealthy one, and therefore requires the 
more imperatively to be met by energetic and invigor- 
ating habits both of body and mind. Of these, however, 
the Southern ladies appear to have, at present, no very 

positive idea. Doctor told us to-day of a comical 

application which his negro man had made to him for the 
coat he was then wearing. I forget whether the fellow 
wanted the loan, or the absolute gift of it, but his argu- 
ment was (it might have been an Irishman's) that he knew 
his master intended to give it to him by-and-by, and that 
he thought he might as well let him have it at once as 
keep him waiting any longer for it. This story the doc- 
tor related with great glee, and it furnishes a very good 
sample of what the Southerners are fond of exhibiting, 


the degree of license to which they capriciously permit 
their favorite slaves occasionally to carry their familiarity. 
They seem to consider it as an undeniable proof of the 
general kindness with which their dependents are treated. 
It is as good a proof of it as the maudlin tenderness of a 
fine lady to her lapdog is of her humane treatment of ani- 
mals in general. Servants whose claims to respect are 
properly understood by themselves and their employers, 
are not made pets, playthings, jesters, or companions of, 
and it is only the degradation of the many that admits of 
this favoritism to the few — a system of favoritism which, 
as it is perfectly consistent with the profoundest contempt 
and injustice, degrades the object of it quite as much, 
though it oppresses him less, than the cruelty practiced 
upon his fellows. I had several of these favorite slaves 
presented to me, and one or two little negro children, 
who their owners assured me were quite pets. The only 
real service which this arbitrary good-will did to the ob- 
jects of it was quite involuntary and unconscious on the 
part of their kind masters — I mean the inevitable improve- 
ment in intelligence which resulted to them from being 
more constantly admitted to the intercourse of the favor- 
ed white race. 

I must not forget to tell you of a magnificent bald- 
headed eagle which Mr. called me to look at early 

this morning. I had never before seen alive one of these 
national types of yours, and stood entranced as the noble 
creature swept, like a black cloud, over the river, his bald 
white head bent forward and shining in the sun, and his 
fierce eyes and beak directed toward one of the beautiful 
wild ducks on the water, which he had evidently marked 
for his prey. The poor little duck, who was not ambitious 
of such a glorification, dived, and the eagle hovered above 
the spot. After a short interval, its victim rose to the 
surface several yards nearer shore. The great king of 


\\,e H)Ouse Y 1 -^ tije Ydy\<e 


birds stooped nearer, and again the watery shield was in- 
terposed. This went on until the poor water-fowl, driven 
by excess of fear into unwonted boldness, rose, after re- 
peatedly diving, within a short distance of where we 
stood. The eagle, who, I presume, had read how we were 
to have dominion over the fowls of the air (bald-headed 
eagles included), hovered sulkily a while over the river, 
and then, sailing slowly toward the woods on the opposite 
shore, alighted and furled his great wings on a huge cy- 
press limb, that stretched itself out against the blue sky, 
like the arm of a giant, for the giant bird to perch upon. 

I am amusing myself by attempting to beautify, in some 
sort, this residence of ours. Immediately at the back of 
it runs a ditch, about three feet wide, which empties and 
fills twice a day with the tide. This lies like a moat on 
two sides of the house. The opposite bank is a steep 
dike, with a footpath along the top. One or two willows 
droop over this very interesting ditch, and I thought I 
would add to their company some magnolias and myrtles, 
so as to make, a little evergreen plantation round the house. 
I went to the swamp reserves I have before mentioned to 
you, and chose some beautiful bushes — among others, a 
very fine young pine, at which our overseer and all the ne- 
groes expressed much contemptuous surprise; for, though 
the tree is beautiful, it is also common, and with them, as 
with wiser folk, 'tis " nothing pleases but rare accidents." 
In spite of their disparaging remarks, however, I persisted 
in having my pine-tree planted, and I assure you it formed 
a very pleasing variety among the broad, smooth-leaved 
evergreens about it. While forming my plantation, I had 
a brand thrown into a bed of tall yellow sedges which 
screen the brimming waters of the noble river from our 
parlor window, and which I therefore wished removed. 
The small sample of a Southern conflagration which en- 
sued was very picturesque, the flames devouring the light 


growth, absolutely licking it off the ground, while the 
curling smoke drew off in misty wreaths across the river. 
The heat was intense, and I thought how exceedingly and 
unpleasantly warm one must feel in the midst of such a 
forest burning as Cooper describes. Having worked my 
appointed task in the garden, I rowed over to Darien and 
back, the rosy sunset changing mean time to starry even- 
ing, as beautiful as the first the sky ever was arrayed in. 
I saw an advertisement this morning in the paper which 

occasioned me much thought, Mr. J C— — and a Mr. 

N , two planters of this neighborhood, have contract- 
ed to dig a canal, called the Brunswick Canal, and, not 
having hands enough for the work, advertise at the same 
time for negroes on hire and for Irish laborers. Now the 
Irishmen are to have twenty dollars a month wages, and 
to be " found" (to use the technical phrase), which finding 
means abundant food, and the best accommodations which 
can be procured for them. The negroes are hired from 
their masters, who will be paid, of course, as high a price 
as they can obtain for them — probably a very high one, as 
the demand for them is urgent — they, in the mean time, 
receiving no wages, and nothing more than the miserable 
negro fare of rice and corn grits. Of course the Irishmen 
and these slaves are not allowed to work together, but are 
kept at separate stations on the canal. This is every way 
politic, for the low Irish seem to have the same sort of 
hatred of negroes which sects, differing but little in their 
tenets, have for each other. The fact is, that a condition 
in their own country nearly similar has made the poor 
Irish almost as degraded a class of beings as the negroes 
are here, and their insolence toward them, and hatred of 
them, are precisely in proportion to the resemblance be- 
tween them. This hiring out of negroes is a horrid ag- 
gravation of the miseries of their condition ; for if, on the 
plantations, and under the masters to whom they belong, 


their labor is severe and their food inadequate, think what 
it must be when they are hired out for a stipulated sum 
to a temporary employer, who has not even the interest 
which it is pretended an owner may feel in the welfare of 
his slaves, but whose chief aim it must necessarily be to 
get as much out of them, and expend as little on them, as 
possible. Ponder this new form of iniquity, and believe 
me ever your most sincerely attached. 

Dearest E , — After finishing my last letter to you, 

I went out into the clear starlight to breathe the delicious 
mildness of the air, and was surprised to hear rising from 
one of the houses of the settlement a hymn sung appar- 
ently by a number of voices. The next morning I inquired 
the meaning of this, and was informed that those negroes 
on the plantation who were members of the Church were 
holding a prayer-meeting. There is an immensely strong 
devotional feeling among these poor people. The worst 
of it is, that it is zeal without understanding, and profits 
them but little ; yet light is light, even that poor portion 
that may stream through a keyhole, and I welcome this 
most ignorant profession of religion in Mr. 's depend- 
ents as the herald of better and brighter things for them. 
Some of the planters are entirely inimical to any such pro- 
ceedings, and neither allow their negroes to attend wor- 
ship, or to congregate together for religious purposes, 
and truly I think they are wise in their own generation. 
On other plantations, again, the same rigid discipline is 
not observed ; and some planters and overseers go even 
farther than toleration, and encourage these devotional 
exercises and professions of religion, having actually dis- 
covered that a man may become more faithful and trust- 
worthy, even as a slave, who acknowledges the higher 
influences of Christianity, no matter in how small a de- 


gree. Slaveholding clergymen, and certain piously in- 
clined planters, undertake, accordingly, to enlighten these 
poor creatures upon these matters, with a safe under- 
standing, however, of what truth is to be given to them, 
and what is not; how much they may learn to become 
better slaves, and how much they may not learn, lest they 
cease to be slaves at all. The process is a very ticklish 
one, and but for the Northern public opinion, which is 
now pressing the slaveholders close, I dare say would not 
be attempted at all. As it is, they are putting their own 
throats and their own souls in jeopardy by this very en- 
deavor to serve God and Mammon. The light that they 
are letting in between their fingers will presently strike 
them blind, and the mighty flood of truth which they are 
straining through a sieve to the thirsty lips of their slaves 
sweep them away like straws from their cautious moor- 
ings, and overwhelm them in its great deeps, to the wa- 
ters of which man may in nowise say, thus far shall ye 
come and no farther. The community I now speak of, 
the white population of Darien, should be a religious one, 
to judge by the number of churches it maintains. How- 
ever, we know the old proverb, and, at that rate, it may 
not be so godly after all. Mr. ■ and his brother have 
been called upon at various times to subscribe to them 
all ; and I saw this morning a most fervent appeal, ex- 
tremely ill spelled, from a gentleman living in the neigh- 
borhood of the town, and whose slaves are notoriously 

ill treated, reminding Mr. of the precious souls of his 

human cattle, and requesting a farther donation for the 
Baptist Church, of which most of the people here are 
members. Now this man is known to be a hard master ; 
his negro houses are sheds not fit to stable beasts in ; his 
slaves are ragged, half naked, and miserable ; yet he is 
urgent for their religious comforts, and writes to Mr. 
about " their souls — their precious souls." He was 


over here a few days ago, and pressed me very much to 
attend his church. I told him I would not go to a 
church where the people who worked for us were parted 
off from us as if they had the pest, and we should catch 
it of them. I asked him, for I was curious to know, how 
they managed to administer the sacrament to a mixed 
congregation? He replied, Oh, very easily; that the 
white portion of the assembly received it first, and the 
blacks afterward. "A new commandment I give unto 
you, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you." 
Oh, what a shocking mockery ! However, they show 
their faith, at all events, in the declaration that God is no 
respecter of persons, since they do not pretend to exclude 
from His table those whom they most certainly would 
not admit to their own. 

I have, as usual, allowed this letter to lie by, dear 

E , not in the hope of the occurrence of any event — 

for that is hopeless — but until my daily avocations al- 
lowed me leisure to resume it, and afforded me, at the 
same time, matter wherewith to do so. I really never 
was so busy in all my life as I am here. I sit at the re- 
ceipt of custom (involuntarily enough) from morning till 
night — no time, no place, affords me a respite from my 
innumerable petitioners; and whether I be asleep or 
awake, reading, eating, or walking — in the kitchen, my 
bedroom, or the parlor, they flock in with urgent entrea- 
ties and pitiful stories, and my conscience forbids my ever 
postponing their business for any other matter ; for, with 
shame and grief of heart I say it, by their unpaid labor I 
live — their nakedness clothes me, and their heavy toil 
maintains me in luxurious idleness. Surely the least I 
can do is to hear these, my most injured benefactors ; and, 
indeed, so intense in me is the sense of the injury they 
receive from me and mine, that I should scarce dare re- 
fuse them the very clothes from my back, or food from 



my plate, if they asked me for it. In taking my daily 
walk round the banks yesterday, I found that I was walk- 
ing over violet roots. The season is too little advanced 
for them to be in bloom, and I could not find out whether 
they were the fragrant violet or not. 

Mr. has been much gratified to-day by the arrival 

of Mr. K , who, with his father, for nineteen years was 

the sole manager of these estates, and discharged his la- 
borious task with great ability and fidelity toward his em- 
ployers. How far he understood his duties to the slaves, 
or whether, indeed, an overseer can, in the nature of things, 
acknowledge any duty to them, is another question. He 
is a remarkable man, and is much respected for his integ- 
rity and honorable dealing by every body here. His ac- 
tivity and energy are wonderful ; and the mere fact of his 
having charge of for nineteen years, and personally gov- 
erning, without any assistance whatever, seven hundred 
people scattered over three large tracts of land, at a con- 
siderable distance from each other, certainly bespeaks ef- 
ficiency and energy of a very uncommon order. The char- 
acter I had heard of him from Mr.- had excited a great 

deal of interest in me, and I was very glad of this oppor- 
tunity of seeing a man who for so many years had been 
sovereign over the poor people here. I met him walking 

en the banks with Mr. as I returned from my own 

ramble, during which nothing occurred or appeared to 
interest me, except, by-the-by, my unexpectedly coming 
quite close to one of those magnificent scarlet birds which 
abound here, and which dart across your path like a wing- 
ed flame. Nothing can surpass the beauty of their plum- 
age, and their voice is excellently melodious — they are 

My companions, when I do not request the attendance 
of my friend Jack, are a couple of little terriers, who are 
endowed to perfection with the ugliness and the intelli- 


gence of their race ; they are of infinite service on the 
plantation, as, owing to the immense quantity of grain, 
and chaff, and such matters, rats and mice abound in the 
mills and store-houses. I crossed the threshing-floor to- 
day — a very large square, perfectly level, raised by arti- 
ficial means about half a foot from the ground, and cover- 
ed equally all over, so as to lie quite smooth, with some 
preparation of tar. It lies immediately between the house 
and the steam mill, and on it much of the negroes' work 
is done — the first threshing is given to the rice, and other 
labors are carried on. As I walked across it to-day, pass- 
ing through the busy groups, chiefly of women, that cov- 
ered it, I came opposite to one of the drivers, who held in 
his hand his whip, the odious insignia of his office. I took 
it from him ; it was a short stick of moderate size, with a 
thick square leather thong attached to it. As I held it in 
my hand, I did not utter a word ; but I conclude, as is oft- 
en the case, my face spoke what my tongue did not, for 
the driver said, " Oh, missis, me use it for measure ; me 
seldom strike nigger with it." For one moment I thought 
I must carry the hateful implement into the house with 
me. An instant's reflection, however, served to show me 
how useless such a proceeding would be. The people are 
not mine, nor their drivers, nor their whips. I should but 
have impeded, for a few hours, the man's customary office, 
and a new scourge would have been easily provided, and 
I should have done nothing, perhaps worse than noth- 

After dinner I had a most interesting conversation with 

Mr. K . Among other subjects, he gave me a lively 

and curious description of the Yeomanry of Georgia, more 
properly termed pine-landers. Have you visions now of 
well-to-do farmers with comfortable homesteads, decent 
habits, industrious, intelligent, cheerful, and thrifty ? Such, 
however, is not the Yeomanry of Georgia. Labor being 


here the especial portion of slaves, it is thenceforth de- 
graded, and considered unworthy of all but slaves. No 
white man, therefore, of any class puts hand to work of 
any kind soever. This is an exceedingly dignified way of 
proving their gentility for the lazy planters who prefer an 
idle life of semistarvation and barbarism to the degrada- 
tion of doing any thing themselves ; but the effect on the 
poorer whites of the country is terrible. I speak now of 
the scattered white population, who, too poor to possess 
land or slaves, and having no means of living in the towns, 
squat (most appropriately is it so termed) either on other 
men's land or government districts — always here swamp 
or pine barren — and claim masterdom over the place they 
invade till ejected by the rightful proprietors. These 
wretched creatures will not, for they are whites (and la- 
bor belongs to blacks and slaves alone here), labor for 
their own subsistence. They are hardly protected from 
the weather by the rude shelters they frame for them- 
selves in the midst of these dreary woods. Their food is 
chiefly supplied by shooting the wild -fowl and venison, 
and stealing from the cultivated patches of the plantations 
nearest at hand. Their clothes hang about them in filthy 
tatters, and the combined squalor and fierceness of their 
appearance is really frightful. 

This population is the direct growth of slavery. The 
planters are loud in their execrations of these miserable 
vagabonds ; yet they do not see that so long as labor is 
considered the disgraceful portion of slaves, these free 
men will hold it nobler to starve or steal than till the 
earth, with none but the despised blacks for fellow-labor- 
ers. The blacks themselves — such is the infinite power 
of custom — acquiesce in this notion, and, as I have told 
you, consider it the lowest degradation in a white to use 
any exertion. I wonder, considering the burdens they 
have seen me lift, the digging, the planting, the rowing, 


and the walking I do, that they do not utterly contemn 
me, and, indeed, they seem lost in amazement at it. 

Talking of these pine-landers — gipsies, without any of 
the romantic associations that*belong to the latter people 
— led us to the origin of such a population, slavery ; and 
you may be sure I listened with infinite interest to the 
opinions of a man of uncommon shrewdness and sagacity, 
who was born in the very bosom of it, and has passed his 
whole life among slaves. If any one is competent to judge 
of its effects, such a man is the one ; and this was his ver- 
dict : u I hate slavery with all my heart ; I consider it an 
absolute curse wherever it exists. It will keep those states 
where it does exist fifty years behind the others in im- 
provement and prosperity." Farther on in the conversa- 
tion he made this most remarkable observation : "As for 
its being an irremediable evil — a thing not to be helped 
or got rid of — that's all nonsense ; for, as soon as people 
become convinced that it is their interest to get rid of it, 
they will soon find the means to do so, depend upon it." 
And undoubtedly this is true. This is not an age, nor 
yours a country, where a large mass of people will long 
endure what they perceive to be injurious to their for- 
tunes and advancement. , Blind as people often are to 
their highest and truest interests, your country folk have 
generally shown remarkable acuteness in finding out where 
their worldly progress suffered let or hinderance, and have 
removed it with laudable alacrity. IsTow the fact is not 
at all as we at the North are sometimes told, that the 
Southern slaveholders deprecate the evils of slavery quite 
as much as we do ; that they see all its miseries ; that, 
moreover, they are most anxious to get rid of the whole 
thing, but want the means to do so, and submit most un- 
willingly to a necessity from which they can not extricate 
themselves. All this I thought might be true before I 
went to the South, and often has the charitable supposi- 


tion checked the condemnation which was indignantly 
rising to my lips against these murderers of their breth- 
ren's peace. A little reflection, however, even without 
personal observation, migfrt have convinced me that this 
could not be the case. If the majority of Southerners 
were satisfied that slavery was contrary to their worldly 
fortunes, slavery would be at an end from that very mo- 
ment ; but the fact is — and I have it not only from obser- 
vation of my own, but from the distinct statement of some 
of the most intelligent Southern men that I have conversed 
with — the only obstacle to immediate abolition through- 
out the South is the immense value of the human property, 
and, to use the words of a very distinguished Carolinian, 
who thus ended a long discussion we had on the subject, 
" I'll tell you why abolition is impossible : because every 
healthy negro can fetch a thousand dollars in the Charles- 
ton market at this moment." And this opinion, you see, 

tallies perfectly with the testimony of Mr. K . 

He went on to speak of several of the slaves on this es- 
tate as persons quite remarkable for their fidelity and in- 
telligence, instancing old Molly, Ned the engineer, who 
has the superintendence of the steam-engine in the rice 
mill, and head man Frank, of whom, indeed, he wound up 
the eulogium by saying he had quite the principles of a 
white man, which I thought most equivocal praise, but he 
did not intend it as such. As I was complaining to Mr. 

of the terribly neglected condition of the dikes, which 

are in some parts so overgrown with gigantic briers that 
'tis really impossible to walk over them, and the trench 
on one hand, and river on the other, afford one extremely 

disagreeable alternatives, Mr. K cautioned me to be 

particularly on my guard not to step on the thorns of the 
orange-tree. These, indeed, are formidable spikes, and, 
he assured me, were peculiarly poisonous to the flesh. 
Some of the most painful and tedious wounds he had ever 


K * " 



^Vjg Pj loS^aw! |V1 ' ^Dy^e^ 


seen, he said, were incurred by the negroes running these 
large green thorns into their feet. 

This led him to speak of the glory and beauty of the 
orange-trees on the island before a certain uncommonly 
severe winter, a few years ago, destroyed them all. For 
five miles round the banks grew a double row of noble 
orange-trees, as large as our orchard apple-trees, covered 
with golden fruit and silver flowers. It must have been 

a most magnificent spectacle, and Captain F , too, told 

me, in speaking of it, that he had brought Basil Hall here 
in the season of the trees blossoming, and he had said it 
was as well worth crossing the Atlantic to see that as to 
see the Niagara. Of all these noble trees nothing now 
remains but the roots, which bear witness to their size, 
and some young sprouts shooting up, affording some hope 
that, in the course of years, the island may wear its bridal 
garland again. One huge stump close to the door is all 
that remains of an enormous tree that overtopped the 
house, from the upper windows of which oranges have 
been gathered from off its branches, and which, one year, 

bore the incredible number of 8542 oranges. Mr. K 

assured me of this as a positive fact, of which he had at 
the time made the entry in his journal, considering such a 

crop from a single tree well worthy of record. Mr. 

was called out this evening to listen to a complaint of 
overwork from a gang of pregnant women. I did not 
stay to listen to the details of their petition, for I am un- 
able to command myself on such occasions, and Mr. 

seemed positively degraded in my eyes as he stood enforc- 
ing upon these women the necessity of their fulfilling their 
appointed tasks. How honorable he would have appeared 
to me begrimed with the sweat and soil of the coarsest 
manual labor, to what he then seemed, setting forth to 
these wretched, ignorant women, as a duty, their unpaid 
exacted labor ! I turned away in bitter disgust. I hope 


this sojourn among Mr. 's slaves may not lessen my 

respect for him, but I fear it ; for the details of slavehold- 
ing are so unmanly, letting alone every other considera- 
tion, that I know not how any one with the spirit of a 
man can condescend to them. 

I have been out again on the river, rowing. I find noth- 
ing new. Swamps crowned with perfect evergreens are 
the only land (that's Irish !) about here, and, of course, 
turn which way I will, the natural features of river and 
shore are the same. I do not weary of these most exqui- 
site watery woods, but you will of my mention of them, I 
fear. Adieu. 

Deaeest E , — Since I last wrote to you I have 

been actually engaged in receiving and returning visits ; 
for even to this ultima thule of all civilization do these 
polite usages extend. I have been called upon by several 
families residing in and about Darien, and rowed over in 
due form to acknowledge the honor. How shall I de- 
scribe Darien to you ? The abomination of desolation is 
but a poor type of its forlorn appearance, as, half buried 
in sand, its straggling, tumble-down wooden houses peer 
over the muddy bank of the thick slimy river. The whole 
town lies in a bed of sand : side-walks, or mid- walks, there 
be none distinct from each other; at every step I took my 
feet were ankle deep in the soil, and I had cause to rejoice 
that I was booted for the occasion. Our worthy doctor, 
whose lady I was going to visit, did nothing but regret 
that I had not allowed him to provide me a carriage, 
though the distance between his house and the landing is 
not a quarter of a mile. The magnitude of the exertion 
seemed to fill him with amazement, and he over and over 
again repeated how impossible it would be to prevail on 
any of the ladies there to take such a walk. The houses 


seemed scattered about here and there, apparently without 
any design, and looked, for the most part, either unfinished 
or ruinous. One feature of the scene alone recalled the 
villages of New England — the magnificent oaks, which 
seemed to add to the meanness and insignificance of the 
human dwellings they overshadowed by their enormous 
size and grotesque forms. They reminded me of the elms 
of New Haven and Stockbridge. They are quite as large, 
and more picturesque, from their sombre foliage and the 
infinite variety of their forms — a beauty wanting in the 
New England elm, which invariably rises and spreads in 
a way which, though the most graceful in the world, at 
length palls on the capricious human eye, which seeks, 
above all other beauties, variety. Our doctor's wife is a 
New England woman ; how can she live here ? She had 
the fair eyes and hair, and fresh complexion of your part 
of the country, and its dearly beloved snuffle, which seemed 
actually dearly beloved when I heard it down here. She 
gave me some violets and narcissus, already blossoming 
profusely — in January — and expressed, like her husband, 
a thousand regrets at my having walked so far. 

A transaction of the most amusing nature occurred to- 
day with regard to the resources of the Darien Bank, and 
the mode of carrying on business in that liberal and en- 
lightened institution, the funds of which I should think 
quite incalculable — impalpable, certainly, they appeared 
by our experience this morning. 

The river, as we came home, was covered with Ocone 
boxes. It is well for them they are so shallow-bottomed, 
for we rasped sand all the way home through the cut and 
in the shallows of the river. 

I have been over the rice mill, under the guidance of 
the overseer and head man Frank, and have been made 
acquainted with the whole process of threshing the rice, 
which is extremely curious ; and here I may again incu- 


tion another statement of Miss Martineau's, which I am 
told is, and I should suppose, from what I see here, must 
be a mistake. She states that the chaff of the husks of 
the rice is used as a manure for the fields, whereas the 
people have to-day assured me that it is of so hard, stony, 
and untractable a nature as to be literally good for noth- 
ing. Here I know it is thrown away by cart-loads into 
the riyer, where its only use appears to be to act like 
ground-bait, and attract a vast quantity of small fish to its 
vicinity. The number of hands employed in this thresh- 
ing mill is very considerable, and the whole establishment, 
comprisiDg the fires, and boilers, and machinery of a pow- 
erful steam-engine, are all under negro superintendence 
and direction. After this survey I occupied myself with 
my infant plantation of evergreens round the dike, in the 
midst of which interesting pursuit I was interrupted by a 

visit from Mr. B , a neighboring planter, who came to 

transact some business with Mr. about rice which he 

had sent to our mill to have threshed, and the price to be 
paid for such threshing. The negroes have presented a 
petition to-day that they may be allowed to have a ball in 
honor of our arrival, which demand has been acceded to, 
and furious preparations are being set on foot. 

On visiting the Infirmary to-day, I was extremely 
pleased with the increased cleanliness and order observa- 
ble in all the rooms. Two little filthy children, however, 
seemed to be still under the ancieri regime of non-ablu- 
tion ; but upon my saying to the old nurse Molly, in whose 
ward they were, " Why, Molly, I don't believe you have 
bathed those children to-day," she answered, with infinite 
dignity, " Missis no b'lieve me wash urn pickaninny ! and 
yet she 'tress me wid all urn niggar when 'em sick." The 
injured innocence and lofty conscious integrity of this 
speech silenced and abashed me ; and yet I can't help it, 
but I don't believe to this present hour that those chil- 


dren had had any experience of water, at least not wash- 
ing water, since they first came into the world. 

I rowed over to Darien again, to make some purchases, 
yesterday, and, inquiring the price of various articles, 
could not but wonder to find them at least three times as 
dear as in your Northern villages. The profits of these 
Southern shopkeepers (who for the most part are thor- 
oughbred Yankees, with the true Yankee propensity to 
trade, no matter on how dirty a counter, or in what man- 
ner of wares) are enormous. The prices they ask for ev- 
ery thing, from colored calicoes for negro dresses to pi- 
ano-fortes (one of which, for curiosity sake, I inquired the 
value of), are fabulous, and such as none but the laziest 
and most reckless people in the world would consent to 
afford. On our return we found the water in the cut so 
extremely low that we were obliged to push the boat 
through it, and did not accomplish it without difficulty. 
The banks of this canal, when they are thus laid bare, pre- 
sent a singular appearance enough — two walls of solid 
mud, through which matted, twisted, twined, and tangled, 
like the natural veins of wood, runs an everlasting net of 
indestructible roots, the thousand toes of huge cypress 
feet. The trees have been cut down long ago from the 
soil, but these fangs remain in the earth without decaying 
for an incredible space of time. This long endurance of 
immersion is one of the valuable properties of these cy- 
press roots ; but, though excellent binding stuff for the 
sides of a canal, they must be pernicious growth in any 
land used for cultivation that requires deep tillage. On 
entering the Altamaha, we found the tide so low that we 
were much obstructed by the sand-banks, which, but for 
their constant shifting, would presently take entire pos- 
session of this noble stream, and render it utterly, impass- 
able from shore to shore, as it already is in several parts 
of the channel at certain seasons of the tide. On landing, 


I was seized hold of by a hideous old negress, named Sin- 
da, who had come to pay me a visit, and of whom Mr. 

told me a strange anecdote. She passed at one time 

for a prophetess among her fellow-slaves on the planta- 
tion, and had acquired such an ascendency over them that, 
having given out, after the fashion of Mr. Miller, that the 
world was to come to an end at a certain time, and that 
not a very remote one, the belief in her assertion took 
such possession of the people on the estate that they re- 
fused to work, and the rice and cotton fields were threat- 
ened with an indefinite fallow in consequence of this strike 

on the part of the cultivators. Mr. K , who was then 

overseer of the property, perceived the impossibility of ar- 
guing, remonstrating, or even flogging this solemn panic 
out of the minds of the slaves. The great final emancipa- 
tion which they believed at hand, had stripped even the 
lash of its prevailing authority, and the terrors of an over- 
seer for once were as nothing, in the terrible expectation 
of the advent of the universal Judge of men. They were 
utterly impracticable ; so, like a very shrewd man as he 
was, he acquiesced in their determination not to work ; 
but he expressed to them his belief that Sinda was mis- 
taken, and he warned her that if, at the appointed time, it 
proved so, she would be severely punished. I do not 
know whether he confided to the slaves what he thought 
likely to be the result if she was in the right ; but poor 
Sinda was in the wrong. Her day of judgment came in- 
deed, and a severe one it proved, for Mr. K had her 

tremendously flogged, and her end of things ended much 
like Mr. Miller's ; but whereas he escaped unhanged in 
spite of his atrocious practices upon the fanaticism and 
credulity of his country people, the spirit of false proph- 
ecy was mercilessly scourged out of her, and the faith of 
her people of course reverted from her to the omnipotent 
lash again. Think what a dream that must have been 

y5vt|ev' 5 Island ^beyo^A t\e (Loir. 


while it lasted for those infinitely oppressed people — free- 
dom without entering it by the grim gate of death, 
brought down to them at once by the second coming of 
Christ, whose first advent has left them yet so far from it ! 
Farewell ; it makes me giddy to think of having been a 
slave while that delusion lasted and after it vanished. 

Dearest E , — I received early this morning a visit 

from a young negro called Morris, who came to request 
permission to be baptized. The master's leave is neces- 
sary for this ceremony of acceptance into the bosom of 
the Christian Church ; so all that can be said is, that it is 
to be hoped the rite itself may not be indispensable for 

salvation, as, if Mr. had thought proper to refuse 

Morris's petition, he must infallibly have been lost, in spite 
of his own best wishes to the contrary. I could not, in 
discoursing with him, perceive that he had any very dis- 
tinct ideas of the advantages he expected to derive from 
the ceremony; but perhaps they appeared all the greater 
for being a little vxigue. I have seldom seen a more 
pleasing appearance than that of this young man ; his fig- 
ure was tall and straight, and his face, which was of a per- 
fect oval, rejoiced in the grace, very unusual among his 
people, of a fine high forehead, and the much more fre- 
quent one of a remarkably gentle and sweet expression. 
He was, however, jet black, and certainly did not owe 
these personal advantages to any mixture in his blood. 
There is a certain African tribe from which the West In- 
dian slave - market is chiefly recruited, who have these 
same characteristic features, and do not at all present the 
ignoble and ugly negro type, so much more commonly 
seen here. They are a tall, powerful people, with remark- 
ably fine figures, regular features, and a singularly warlike 
and fierce disposition, in which respect they also differ 


from the race of negroes existing on the American planta- 
tions. I do not think Morris, however, could have be- 
longed to this tribe, though perhaps Othello did, which 
would at once settle the difficulties of those commentators 
who, abiding by Iago's very disagreeable suggestions as 
to his purely African appearance, are painfully compelled 
to forego the mitigation of supposing him a Moor and 
not a negro. Did I ever tell you of my dining in Boston, 

at the H 's, on my first visit to that city, and sitting 

by Mr. John Quincy Adams, who, talking to me about 
Desdemona, assured me, with a most serious expression 
of sincere disgust, that he considered all her misfortunes 
as a very just judgment upon her for having married a 
" nigger ?" I think, if some ingenious American actor of 
the present day, bent upon realizing Shakspeare's finest 
conceptions, with all the advantages of modern enlighten- 
ment, could contrive to slip in that opprobrious title, with 
a true South Carolinian anti-Abolitionist expression, it 
might really be made quite a point for lago, as, for in- 
stance, in his first soliloquy — " I hate the nigger," given 
in proper Charleston or Savannah fashion, I am sure would 

tell far better than " I hate the Moor." Only think, E^ , 

what a very new order of interest the whole tragedy 
might receive, acted throughout from this stand-point, as 
the Germans call it in this country, and called "Amalga- 
mation, or the Black Bridal." 

On their return from their walk this afternoon the chil- 
dren brought home some pieces of sugar-cane, of which a 
small quantity grows on the island. When I am most 
inclined to deplore the condition of the poor slaves on 
these cotton and rice plantations, the far more intolerable 
existence and harder labor of those employed on the sug- 
ar estates occurs to me, sometimes producing the effect 
of a lower circle in Dante's " Hell of Horrors," opening 
beneath the one where he seems to have reached the 


climax of infernal punishment. You may have . seen this 
vegetable, and must at any rate, I should think, be fa- 
miliar with it by description. It is a long green reed, 
like the stalk of the maize, or Indian corn, only it shoots 
up to a much more considerable height, and has a consis- 
tent pith, which, together with the rind itself, is extremely 
sweet. The principal peculiarity of this growth, as per- 
haps you know, is that they are laid horizontally in the 
earth when they are planted for propagation, and from 
each of the notches or joints of the recumbent cane a 
young shoot is produced at the germinating season. 

Avery curious and interesting circumstance to me just 
now in the neighborhood is the projection of a canal, to 
be called the Brunswick Canal, which, by cutting through 
the lower part of the main land, toward the southern ex- 
tremity of Great St. Simon's Island, is contemplated as a 
probable and powerful means of improving the prosper- 
ity of the town of Brunswick, by bringing it into imme- 
diate communication with the Atlantic. The scheme, 
which I think I have mentioned to you before, is, I be- 
lieve, chiefly patronized by your States' folk — Yankee 
enterprise and funds being very essential elements, it ap- 
pears to me, in all Southern projects and achievements. 
This speculation, however, from all I hear of the difficul- 
ties of the undertaking, from the nature of the soil, and 
the impossibility almost of obtaining efficient labor, is not 
very likely to arrive at any very satisfactory result ; and, 
indeed, I find it hard to conceive how this part of Georgia 
can possibly produce a town which can be worth the dig- 
ging of a canal, even to Yankee speculators. There is 
one feature of the undertaking, however, which more than 
all the others excites my admiration, namely, that Irish 
laborers have been advertised for to work upon the canal, 
and the terms offered them are twenty dollars a month 
per man and their board. Now these men will have for 


fellow-laborers negroes who not only will receive nothing 
at all for their work, but who will be hired by the con- 
tractors and directors of the works from their masters, to 
whom they will hand over the price of their slaves' labor ; 
while it will be the interest of the person hiring them not 
only to get as much work as possible out of them, but 
also to provide them as economically with food, combin- 
ing the two praiseworthy endeavors exactly in such judi- 
cious proportions as not to let them neutralize each other. 
You will observe that this case of a master hiring out his 
slaves to another employer, from whom he receives their 
rightful wages, is a form of slavery which, though ex- 
tremely common, is very seldom adverted to in those ar- 
guments for the system which are chiefly founded upon 
the master's presumed regard for his human property. 
People who have ever let a favorite house to the tempo- 
rary occupation of strangers can form a tolerable idea of 
the difference between one's own regard and care of one's 
goods and chattels and that of the most conscientious 
tenant ; and whereas I have not yet observed that own- 
ership is a very effectual protection to the slaves against 
ill usage and neglect, I am quite prepared to admit that 
it is a vastly better one than the temporary interest 
which a lessee can feel in the live-stock he hires, out of 
whom it is his manifest interest to get as much, and into 
whom to put as little, as possible. Yet thousands of 
slaves throughout the Southern states are thus handed 
over by the masters who own them to masters who do 
not ; and it does not require much demonstration to prove 
that their estate is not always the more gracious. Now 
you must not suppose that these same Irish free laborers 
and negro slaves will be permitted to work together at 
this Brunswick Canal. They say that this would be ut- 
terly impossible; for why? there would be tumults, and 
risings, and broken heads, and bloody bones, and all the 


natural results of Irish intercommunion with their fellow- 
creatures, no doubt — perhaps even a little more riot and 
violence than merely comports with their usual habits of 
Milesian good fellowship ; for, say the masters, the Irish 
hate the negroes more even than the Americans do, and 
there would be no bound to their murderous animosity if 
they were brought in contact with them on the same por- 
tion of the works of the Brunswick Canal. Doubtless 
there is some truth in this ; the Irish laborers who might 
come hither would be apt enough, according to a univer- 
sal moral law, to visit upon others the injuries they had 
received from others. They have been oppressed enough 
themselves to be oppressive whenever they have a chance; 
and the despised and degraded condition of the blacks, 
presenting to them a very ugly resemblance of their own 
home, circumstances naturally excite in them the exer- 
cise of the disgust and contempt of which they them- 
selves are very habitually the objects; and that such cir- 
cular distribution of wrongs may not only be pleasant, 
but have something like the air of retributive right to 
very ignorant folks, is not much to be wondered at. 
Certain is the fact, however, that the worst of all tyrants 
is the one who has been a slave ; and, for that matter 
(and I wonder if the Southern slaveholders hear it with 
the same ear that I do, and ponder it with the same 
mind ?), the command of one slave to another is alto- 
gether the most uncompromising utterance of insolent 
truculent despotism that it ever fell to my lot to witness 
or listen to. " You nigger — I say, you black nigger — 
you no hear me call you— -what for you no run quick?" 

All this, dear E , is certainly reasonably in favor of 

division of labor on the Brunswick Canal ; but the Irish 
are not only quarrelers, and rioters, and fighters, and 
drinkers, and despisers of niggers — they are a passionate, 
impulsive, warm-hearted, generous people, much given to 


powerful indignations, which break out suddenly when 
not compelled to smoulder sullenly — pestilent sympa- 
thizers too, and with a sufficient dose of American atmos- 
pheric air in their lungs, properly mixed with a right pro- 
portion of ardent spirits, there is no saying but what they 
might actually take to sympathy with the slaves, and I 
leave you to judge of the possible consequences. You 
perceive, I am sure, that they can by no means be allowed 
to work together on the Brunswick Canal. 

I have been taking my daily walk round the island, and 
visited the sugar mill and the threshing mill again. 

Mr. has received another letter from Parson S 

upon the subject of more church building in Darien. It 
seems that there has been a very general panic in this part 
of the slave states lately, occasioned by some injudicious 
missionary preaching, which was pronounced to be of a 
decidedly abolitionist tendency. The offensive preachers, 
after sowing God only knows what seed in this tremen- 
dous soil, where one grain of knowledge may spring up a 
gigantic upas-tree to the prosperity of its most unfortu- 
nate possessors, were summarily and ignominiously ex- 
pulsed; and now some shortsighted, uncomfortable Chris- 
tians in these parts, among others this said Parson S , 

are possessed with the notion that something had better 
be done to supply the want created by the cessation of 
these dangerous exhortations, to which the negroes have 

listened, it seems, with complacency. Parson S seems 

to think that, having driven out two preachers, it might 
be well to build one church, where, at any rate, the negroes 
might be exhorted in a safe and salutary manner, " qui ne 
leur donnerait point d'idees," as the French would say. 

Upon my word, E , I used to pity the slaves, and I do 

pity them with all my soul ; but, oh dear ! oh dear ! their 
case is a bed of roses to that of their owners, and I would 
go to the slave-block in Charleston to-morrow cheerfully 


to be purchased if my only option was to go thither as a 
purchaser. I was looking over this morning, with a most 
indescribable mixture of feelings, a pamphlet published in 
the South upon the subject of the religious instruction of 
the slaves, and the difficulty of the task undertaken by 
these reconcilers of God and Mammon really seems to me 
nothing short of piteous. " We must give our involun- 
tary servants" (they seldom call them slaves, for it is an 
ugly word in an American mouth, you know) " Christian 
enlightenment," say they ; and where shall they begin ? 
" Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do 
ye also unto them ?" No ; but " Servants, obey your mas- 
ters ;" and there, I think, they naturally come to a full 
stop. This pamphlet forcibly suggested to me the neces- 
sity for a slave Church Catechism, and also, indeed, if it 
were possible, a slave Bible. If these heaven-blincted ne- 
gro enlighteners persist in their pernicious plan of making 
Christians of their cattle, something of the sort must be 
done, or they will infallibly cut their own throats with this 
two-edged sword of truth, to which they should in no wise 
have laid their hand, and would not, doubtless, but that it 
is now thrust at them so threateningly that they have no 
choice. Again and again, how much I do pity them ! 

I have been walking to another cluster of negro huts, 
known as Number Two, and here we took a boat and 
rowed across the broad brimming Altamaha to a place 
called Woodville, on a part of the estate named Hammer- 
smith, though why that very thriving suburb of the great 
city of London should have been selected as the name of 
the lonely plank house in the midst of the pine woods 
which here enjoys that title I can not conceive, unless it 
was suggested by the contrast. This settlement is on the 
main land, and consists apparently merely of this house 
(to which the overseer retires when the poisonous mala- 
ria of the rice plantations compels him to withdraw from 


it), and a few deplorably miserable hovels, which appeared 
to me to be chiefly occupied by the most decrepid and in- 
firm samples of humanity it was ever my melancholy lot 
to behold. 

The air of this pine barren is salubrious compared with 
that of the rice islands, and here some of the oldest slaves 
who will not die yet, and can not work any more, are sent, 
to go, as it were, out of the way. Remote recollections 
of former dealings with civilized human beings in the 
shape of masters and overseers seemed to me to be the 
only idea not purely idiotic in the minds of the poor old 
tottering creatures that gathered to stare with dim and 
blear eyes at me and my children. 

There were two very aged women, who had seen differ- 
ent, and, to their faded recollections, better times, who 
spoke to me of Mr. — — 's grandfather, and of the early 
days of the plantation, when they Were young and strong, 
and worked as their children and grandchildren were now 
working, neither for love nor yet for money. One of these 
old crones, a hideous, withered, wrinkled piece of woman- 
hood, said that she had worked as long as her strength 
had lasted, and that then she had still been worth her 
keep, for, said she, " Missus, tho' we no able to work, we 
make little niggers for massa." Her joy at seeing her 
present owner was unbounded, and she kept clapping her 
horny hands together and exclaiming, " While there is life 
there is hope ; we seen massa before we die." These de- 
monstrations of regard were followed up by piteous com- 
plaints of hunger and rheumatism, and their usual requests 
for pittances of food and clothing, to which we responded 
by promises of additions in both kinds ; and I was extri- 
cating myself as well as I could from my petitioners, with 
the assurance that I would come by-and-by and visit them 
again, when I felt my dress suddenly feebly jerked, and a 
shrill cracked voice on the other side of me exclaimed, 


" Missus, no go yet — no go away yet ; you no see me, 
missus, when you come by-and-by ; but," added the voice, 
in a sort of wail, which seemed to me as if the thought 
was full of misery, " you see many, many of my offspring." 
These melancholy words, particularly the rather unusual 
one at the end of the address, struck me very much. They 
were uttered by a creature which was a woman, but looked 
like a crooked, ill-built figure set up in a field to scare 
crows, with a face infinitely more like a mere animal's 
than any human countenance I ever beheld, and with that 
peculiar, wild, restless look of indefinite and, at the same 
time, intense sadness that is so remarkable in the counte- 
nance of some monkeys. It was almost with an effort 
that I commanded myself so as not to withdraw my dress 
from the yellow, crumpled, filthy claws that griped it, and 
it was not at last without the authoritative voice pf the 
overseer that the poor creature released herjiold of me. 

We returned home certainly in the very strangest vehi- 
cle that ever civilized gentlewoman traveled in — a huge 
sort of cart, made only of some loose boards, on which I 
lay, supporting myself against one of the four posts which 
indicated the sides of my carriage ; six horned creatures, 
cows or bulls, drew this singular equipage, and a yelping, 
howling, screaming, leaping company of half-naked negroes 
ran all round them, goading them with sharp sticks, fran- 
tically seizing hold of their tails, and inciting them by 
every conceivable and inconceivable encouragement to 
quick motion : thus, like one of the ancient Merovingian 
monarchs, I was dragged through the deep sand from the 
settlement back to the river, where we re-embarked for 
the island. 

As we crossed the broad flood, whose turbid waters al- 
ways look swollen as if by a series of freshets, a flight of 
birds sprang from the low swamp we were approaching, 
and literally, as it rose in the air, cast a shadow like that 


of a cloud, which might be said, with but little exaggera- 
tion, to darken the sun for a few seconds. How well I 
remember my poor Aunt Whitelock describing such phe- 
nomena as of frequent occurrence in America, and the 
scornful incredulity with which we heard, without accept- 
ing, these legends of her Western experience ! How lit- 
tle I then thought that I should have to cry peccavi to her 
memory from the bottom of such ruts, and under the 
shadow of such flights of winged creatures as she used to 
describe from the muddy ways of Pennsylvania and the 
muddy waters of Georgia. 

The vegetation is already in an active state of demon- 
stration, sprouting into lovely pale green and vivid red- 
brown buds and leaflets, though 'tis yet early in January. 

After our return home we had a visit from Mr. C , 

one of our neighbors, an intelligent and humane man, to 
whose account of the qualities and characteristics of the 
slaves, as he had observed and experienced them, I listened 
with great interest. The Brunswick Canal was again the 
subject of conversation, and again the impossibility of al- 
lowing the negroes and Irish to work in proximity was 
stated, and admitted as an indisputable fact. It strikes 
me with amazement to hear the hopeless doom of incapac- 
ity for progress pronounced upon these wretched slaves, 
when in my own country the very same order of language 
is perpetually applied to these very Irish, here spoken of 
as a sort of race of demigods by negro comparison. And 
it is most true that in Ireland nothing can be more sav- 
age, brutish, filthy, idle, and incorrigibly and hopelessly 
helpless and incapable than the Irish appear; and yet, 
transplanted to your Northern states, freed from the evil 
influences which surround them at home, they and their 
children become industrious, thrifty, willing to learn, able 
to improve, and forming, in the course of two generations, 
a most valuable accession to your laboring population. 


How is it that it never occurs to these emphatical de- 
nouncers of the whole negro race that the Irish at home 
are esteemed much as they esteem their slaves, and that 
the sentence pronounced against their whole country by 
one of the greatest men of our age, an Irishman, was pre- 
cisely that nothing could save, redeem, or regenerate Ire- 
land unless, as a preparatory measure, the island were sub- 
merged and all its inhabitants drowned off? 

I have had several women at the house to-day asking 
for advice and help for their sick children : they all came 
from No. 2, as they call it, that is, the settlement or clus- 
ter of negro huts nearest to the main one, where we may 
be said to reside. In the afternoon I went thither, and 
found a great many of the little children ailing : there had 
been an unusual mortality among them at this particular 
settlement this winter. In one miserable hut I heard that 
the baby was just dead ; it was one of thirteen, many of 
whom had been, like itself, mercifully removed from the 
life of degradation and misery to which their birth ap- 
pointed them ; and whether it was the frequent repetition 
of similar losses, or an instinctive consciousness that death 
was indeed better than life for such children as theirs, I 
know not, but the father and mother, and old Rose, the 
nurse, who was their little baby's grandmother, all seemed 
apathetic, and apparently indifferent to the event. The 
mother merely repeated over and over again, "I've lost a 
many ; they all goes so ;" and the father, without word or 
comment, went out to his enforced labor. 

As I left the cabin, rejoicing for them at the deliverance 
out of slavery of their poor child, I found myself suddenly 
surrounded by a swarm of young ragamuffins in every 
stage of partial nudity, clamoring from out of their filthy 
remnants of rags for donations of scarlet ribbon for the 
ball, which was to take place that evening. The melan- 
choly scene I had just witnessed, and the still sadder re- 


flection it had given rise to, bad quite driven all thoughts 
of the approaching festivity from my mind ; but the sud- 
den demand for these graceful luxuries by Mr. 's half- 
naked dependents reminded me of the grotesque mask 
which life wears on one of its mysterious faces ; and with 
as much sympathy for rejoicing as my late sympathy for 
sorrow had left me capable of, I procured the desired or- 
naments. I have considerable fellow-feeling for the pas- 
sion for all shades of red which prevails among these 
dusky fellow-creatures of mine, a savage propensity for 
that same color in all its modifications being a tendency 
of my own. 

At our own settlement (No. 1) I found every thing in 
a high fever of preparation for the ball. A huge boat had 
just arrived from the cotton plantation at St. Simon's, la- 
den with the youth and beauty of that portion of the es- 
tate who had been invited to join the party ; and the greet- 
ings among the arrivers and welcomers, and the heaven- 
defying combinations of color in the gala attire of both, 
surpass all my powers of description. The ball, to which 
of course we went, took place in one of the rooms of the 
Infirmary. As the room had, fortunately, but few occu- 
pants, they were removed to another apartment, and, with- 
out any very tender consideration for their not very re- 
mote, though invisible sufferings, the dancing commenced, 

and was continued. Oh, my dear E , I have seen Jim 

Crow — the veritable James : all the contortions, and 
springs, and flings, and kicks, and capers you have been 
beguiled into accepting as indicative of him are spurious, 
faint, feeble, impotent — in a word, pale Northern repro- 
ductions of that ineffable black conception. It is impossi- 
ble for words to describe the things these people did with 
their bodies, and, above all, with their faces, the whites 
of their eyes, and the whites of their teeth, and certain out- 
lines which either naturally and by the grace of heaven, 


or by the practice of some peculiar artistic dexterity, they 
bring into prominent and most ludicrous display. The 
languishing elegance of some — the painstaking laborious- 
ness of others — above all, the feats of a certain enthusias- 
tic banjo-player, who seemed to me to thump his instru- 
ment with every part of his body at once, at last so ut- 
terly overcame any attempt at decorous gravity on my 
part that I was obliged to secede ; and, considering what 
the atmosphere was that we inhaled during the exhibi- 
tion, it is only wonderful to me that we were not made ill 
by the double effort not to laugh, and, if possible, not to 

Monday, 20th. 

My dearest E , — A rather longer interval than 

usual has elapsed since I last wrote to you, but I must beg 
you to excuse it. I have had more than a usual amount 
of small daily occupations to fill my time ; and, as a mere 
enumeration of these would not be very interesting to 
you, I will tell you a story which has just formed an ad- 
mirable illustration for my observation of all the miseries 
of which this accursed system of slavery is the cause, even 
under the best and most humane administration of its laws 
and usages. Pray note it, my dear friend, for you will 
find, in the absence of all voluntary or even conscious 
cruelty on the part of the master, the best possible com- 
ment on a state of things which, without the slightest de- 
sire to injure and oppress, produces such intolerable re- 
sults of injury and oppression. 

We have, as a sort of under nursemaid and assistant of 

my dear M , whose white complexion, as I wrote you, 

occasioned such indignation to my Southern fellow-trav- 
elers, and such extreme perplexity to the poor slaves on 
our arrival here, a much more orthodox servant for these 



parts, a young woman named Psyche, but commonly call- 
ed Sack, not a very graceful abbreviation of the divine 
heathen appellation : she can not be much over twenty, 
has a very pretty figure, a graceful, gentle deportment, 
and a face which, but for its color (she is a dingy mulat- 
to), would be pretty, and is extremely pleasing, from the 
perfect sweetness of its expression; she is always serious, 
not to say sad and silent, and has always an air of melan- 
choly and timidity, that has frequently struck me very 
much, and would have made me think some special anxi- 
ety or sorrow must occasion it, but that God knows the 
whole condition of these wretched people naturally pro- 
duces such a deportment, and there is no necessity to seek 
for special or peculiar causes to account for it. Just in 
proportion as I have found the slaves on this plantation 
intelligent and advanced beyond the general brutish level 
of the majority, I have observed this pathetic expression 
of countenance in them, a mixture of sadness and fear, the 
involuntary exhibition of the two feelings, which I sup- 
pose must be the predominant experience of their whole 
lives, regret and apprehension, not the less heavy, either 
of them, for being, in some degree, vague and indefinite — 
a sense of incalculable past loss and injury, and a dread 
of incalculable future loss and injury. 

I have never questioned Psyche as to her sadness, be- 
cause, in the first place, as I tell you, it appears to me 
most natural, and is observable in all the slaves whose 
superior natural or acquired intelligence allows of their 
filling situations of trust or service about the house and 
family ; and, though I can not and will not refuse to hear 
any and every tale of suffering which these unfortunates 
bring to me, I am anxious to spare both myself and them 
the pain of vain appeals to me for redress and help, which, 
alas ! it is too often utterly out of my power to give them. 
It is useless, and, indeed, worse than useless, that they 


should see my impotent indignation and unavailing pity, 
and hear expressions of compassion for them, and horror 
at their condition, which might only prove incentives to a 
hopeless resistance on their part to a system, under the 
hideous weight of whose oppression any individual or par- 
tial revolt must be annihilated and ground into the dust. 
Therefore, as I tell you, I asked Psyche no questions ; but, 

to my great astonishment, the other day M asked me 

if I knew to whom Psyche belonged, as the poor woman 
had inquired of her with much hesitation and anguish if 
she could tell her who owned her and her children. She 
has two nice little children under six years old, whom she 
keeps as clean and tidy, and who are sad and as silent as 
herself. My astonishment at this question was, as you 
will readily believe, not small, and I forthwith sought out 
Psyche for an explanation. She was thrown into extreme 
perturbation at finding that her question had been refer- 
red to me, and it was some time before I could .sufficient- 
ly reassure her to be able to comprehend, in the midst of 
her reiterated entreaties for pardon, and hopes that she 
had not offended me, that she did not know herself who 
owned her. She was, at one time, the property of Mr. 
K , the former overseer, of whom I have already spo- 
ken to you, and who has just been paying Mr. a vis- 
it. He, like several of his predecessors in the manage- 
ment, has contrived to make a fortune upon it (though it 
yearly decreases in value to the owners, but this is the in- 
evitable course of things in the Southern states), and has 
purchased a plantation of his own in Alabama, I believe, 
or one of the Southwestern states. Whether she still be- 
longed to Mr. K or not she did not know, and en- 
treated me, if she did, to endeavor to persuade Mr. 

to buy her. Now you must know that this poor woman 

is the wife of one of Mr. B 's slaves, a fine, intelligent, 

active, excellent young man, whose whole family are 


among some of the very best specimens of character and 
capacity on the estate. I was so astonished at the (to 
me) extraordinary state of things revealed by poor Sack's 
petition, that I could only tell her that I had supposed all 

the negroes on the plantation were Mr. 's property, 

but that I would certainly inquire, and find out for her, if 
I could, to whom she belonged, and if I could, ehdeaA^or 

to get Mr. to purchase her, if she really was not his. 

Now, E , just conceive for one moment the state of 

mind of this woman, believing herself to belong to a man 
who in a few days was going down to one of those ab- 
horred and dreaded Southwestern states, and who would 
then compel her, with her poor little children, to leave her 
husband and the only home she had ever known, and all 
the ties of affection, relationship, and association of her 
former life, to follow him thither, in all human probability 
never again to behold any living creature that she had 
seen before; and this was so completely a matter of 
course that it was not even thought necessary to apprise 
her positively of the fact, and the only thing that inter- 
posed between her and this most miserable fate was the 

faint hope that Mr. might have purchased her and 

her children. But if he had, if this great deliverance had 
been vouchsafed to her, the knowledge of it was not 
ttiought necessary; and with this deadly dread at her 
heart she was living day after clay, waiting upon me and 
seeing me, with my husband beside me, and my children 
in my arms in blessed security, safe from all separation, 
but the one reserved in God's great providence for all His 
creatures. Do you think I wondered any more at the 
wo-begone expression of her countenance, or do you think 
it was easy for me to restrain within prudent and proper 
limits the expression of my feelings at such a state of 
things ? And she had gone on from day to day enduring 
this agony, till I suppose its own intolerable pressure and 


M 's sweet countenance and gentle sympathizing voice 

and manner had constrained her to lay down this great 
burden of sorrow at our feet. I did not see Mr. un- 
til the evening ; but, in the mean time, meeting Mr. O , 

the overseer, with whom, as I believe I have already told 
you, we are living here, I asked him about Psyche, and 
who was her proprietor, when, to my infinite surprise, he 
told me that he had bought her and her children from Mr. 

K , who had offered them to him, saying that they 

would be rather troublesome to him than otherwise down 

where he was going ; " and so," said Mr. O , " as I 

had no objection to investing a little money that way, I 
bought them." With a heart much lightened, I flew to 
tell poor Psyche the news, so that, at any rate, she might 
be relieved from the dread of any immediate separation 
from her husband. You can imagine better than I can 
tell you what her sensations were ; but she still renewed 

her prayer that I would, if possible, induce Mr. to 

purchase her, and I promised to do so. 

Early the next morning, while I was still dressing, I 
was suddenly startled by hearing voices in loud tones in 

Mr. 's dressing-room, which adjoins my bedroom, and 

the noise increasing until there was an absolute cry of de- 
spair uttered by some man. I could restrain myself no 
longer, but opened the door of communication and saw 
Joe, the young man, poor Psyche's husband, raving almost 
in a state of frenzy, and in a voice broken with sobs and 
almost inarticulate with passion, reiterating his determin- 
ation never to leave this plantation, never to go to Ala- 
bama, never to leave his old father and mother, his poor 
wife and children, and dashing his hat, which he was 
wringing like a cloth in his hands, upon the ground, he 
declared he would kill himself if he was compelled to fol- 
low Mr. K . I glanced from the poor wretch to Mr. 

, who was standing, leaning against a table with his 


arms folded, occasionally uttering a few words of counsel 
to his slave to be quiet and not fret, and not make a fuss 
about what there was no help for. I retreated immedi- 
ately from the horrid scene, breathless with surprise and 
dismay, and stood for some time in my own room, with 
my heart and temples throbbing to such a degree that I 
could hardly support myself. As soon as I recovered 

myself I again sought Mr. O , and inquired of him if 

he knew the cause of poor Joe's distress. He then told 

me that Mr. , who is highly pleased with Mr. K 's 

past administration of his property, wished, on his depart- 
ure for his newly-acquired slave plantation, to give him 
some token of his satisfaction, and had made him a pres- 
ent of the man Joe, who had just received the intelligence 
that he was to go down to Alabama with his new owner 
the next day, leaving father, mother, wife, and children 
behind. You will not wonder that the man required a 
little judicious soothing under such circumstances, and 
you will also, I hope, admire the humanity of the sale of 
his wife and children by the owner who was going to 
take him to Alabama, because they would be encum- 
brances rather than otherwise down there. If Mr. K 

did not do this after he knew that the man was his, then 

Mr. gave him to be carried down to the South after 

his wife and children were sold to remain in Georgia. I 
do not know which was the real transaction, for I have 
not had the heart to ask; but you will easily imagine 
which of the two cases I prefer believing. 

When I saw Mr. after this most wretched story 

became known to me in all its details, I appealed to him, 
for his own soul's sake, not to commit so great a cruelty. 
Poor Joe's agony while remonstrating with his master 
was hardly greater than mine while arguing with him 
upon this bitter piece of inhumanity — how I cried, and 
how I adjured, and how all my sense of justice, and of 


mercy, and of pity for the poor wretch, and of wretched- 
ness at finding myself implicated in such a state of things, 
broke in torrents of words from my lips and tears from 
my eyes ! God knows such a sorrow at seeing any one I 
belonged to commit such an act was indeed a new and 
terrible experience to me, and it seemed to me that I was 
imploring Mr. — ■ — to save himself more than to spare 
these wretches. He gave me no answer whatever, and I 
have since thought that the intemperate vehemence of my 
entreaties and expostulations perhaps deserved that he 
should leave me as he did without one single word of re- 
ply ; and miserable enough I remained. Toward evening, 
as I was sitting alone, my children having gone to bed, 

Mr. O came into the room. I had but one subject in 

my mind ; I had not been able to eat for it. I could hard- 
ly sit still for the nervous distress which every thought 
of these poor people filled me with. As he sat down look- 
ing over some accounts, I said to him, " Have you seen 
Joe this afternoon, Mr. O ?" (I give you our con- 
versation as it took place.) " Yes, ma'am ; he is a great 
deal happier than he was this morning." " Why, how is 
that ?" asked I, eagerly. " Oh, he is not going to Ala- 
bama. Mr. K heard that he had kicked up a fuss 

about it (being in despair at being torn from one's wife 
and children is called kicking up a fuss y this is a sample 
of overseer appreciation of human feelings), and said that 
if the fellow wasn't willing to go with him, he did not 
wish to be bothered with any niggers down there who 
were to be troublesome, so he might stay behind." "And 
does Psyche know this ?" " Yes, ma'am, I suppose so." 
I drew a long breath ; and whereas my needle had stum- 
bled through the stuff I was sewing for an hour before, as 
if my fingers could not guide it, the regularity and rapid- 
ity of its evolutions were now quite edifying. The man 
was for the present safe, and I remained silently ponder- 


ing his deliverance and the whole proceeding, and the 
conduct of every one engaged in it, and, above all, Mr. 

's share in the transaction, and I think, for the first 

time, almost a sense of horrible personal responsibility and 
implication took hold of my mind, and I felt the weight 
of an unimagined guilt upon my conscience ; and yet, God 
knows, this feeling of self-condemnation is very gratuitous 
on my part, since when I married Mr. I knew noth- 
ing of these dreadful possessions of his, and even if I had 
I should have been much puzzled to have formed any idea 
of the state of things in which I now find myself plunged, 
together with those whose well-doing is as vital to me al- 
most as my own. 

With these agreeable reflections I went to bed. Mr. 

said not a word to me upon the subject of these 

poor people all the next day, and in the mean time I be- 
came very impatient of this reserve on his part, because I 
was dying to prefer my request that he would purchase 
Psyche and her children, and so prevent any future sep- 
aration between her and her husband, as I supposed he 
would not again attempt to make a present of Joe, at 
least to any one who did not wish to be bothered with his 
wife and children. In the evening I was again with Mr. 

O alone in the strange, bare, wooden-walled sort of 

shanty which is our sitting-room, and revolving in my 
mind the means of rescuing Psyche from her miserable 
suspense, a long chain of all my possessions, in the shape 
of bracelets, necklaces, brooches, earrings, etc., wound in 
glittering procession through my brain, with many hypo- 
thetical calculations of the value of each separate orna- 
ment, and the very doubtful probability of the amount of 
the whole being equal to the price of this poor creature 
and her children ; and then the great power and privilege 
I had foregone of earning money by my own labor oc- 
curred to me, and I think, for the first time in my life, my 


past profession assumed an aspect that arrested my 
thoughts most seriously. For the last four years of my 
life that preceded my marriage I literally coined money, 
and never until this moment, I think, did I reflect on the 
great means of good, to myself and others, that I so glad- 
ly agreed to give up forever for a maintenance by the un- 
paid labor of slaves — people toiling not only unpaid, but 
under the bitter conditions the bare contemplation of 
which was then wringing my heart. You will not won- 
der that when, in the midst of such cogitations, I sudden- 
ly accosted Mr. O , it was to this effect : " Mr. O , 

I have a particular favor to beg of you. Promise me that 
you will never sell Psyche and her children without first 
letting me know of your intention to do so, and giving 
me the option of buying them." Mr. O is a remark- 
ably deliberate man, and squints, so that, when he has 
taken a little time in directing his eyes to you, you are 
still unpleasantly unaware of any result in which you are 
concerned ; he laid down a book he was reading, and di- 
rected his head and one of his eyes toward me and an- 
swered, " Dear me, ma'am, I am very sorry — I have sold 
them." My work fell down on the ground, and my mouth 
opened wide, but I could utter no sound, I was so dis- 
mayed and surprised ; and he deliberately proceeded : " I 
didn't know, ma'am, you see, at all, that you entertained 
any idea of making an investment of that nature ; for I'm 
sure, if I had, I would willingly have sold the woman to 
you; but I sold her and her children this morning to 

Mr. ■ ." My dear E , though had resented my 

unmeasured upbraidings, you see they had not been with- 
out some good effect, and though he had, perhaps justly, 
punished my violent outbreak of indignation about the 
miserable scene. I witnessed by not telling me of his hu- 
mane purpose, he had bought these poor creatures, and so, 
I trust, secured them from any such misery in future. I 

E 2 


jumped up and left Mr. O still speaking, and ran to 

find Mr. — — , to thank him for what he had done, and 

with that will now bid you good-by. Think, E , how 

it fares with slaves on plantations where there is no crazy 
Englishwoman to weep, and entreat, and implore, and up- 
braid for them, and no master willing to listen to such ap- 

Dear E , — There is one privilege which I enjoy 

here which I think few Cockneynesses have ever had ex- 
perience of, that of hearing my own extemporaneous 
praises chanted bard-fashion by our negroes in rhymes as 
rude and to measures as simple as ever any illustrious fe- 
male of the days of King Brian Boroihme listened to. 
Rowing yesterday evening through a beautiful sunset 
into a more beautiful moonrise, my two sable boatmen en- 
tertained themselves and me with alternate strophe and 
antistrophe of poetical description of my personal at- 
tractions, in which my " wire waist" recurred repeatedly, 
to my intense amusement. This is a charm for the pos- 
session of which M (my white nursemaid) is also in- 
variably celebrated; and I suppose that the fine round 
natural proportions of the uncompressed waists of the 
sable beauties of these regions appear less symmetrical to 
eyes accustomed to them than our stay-cased figures, 
since "nothing pleaseth but rare accidents." Occasion- 
ally I am celebrated in these rowing chants as " Massa's 

darling," and S comes in for endless glorification on 

account of the brilliant beauty of her complexion ; the 
other day, however, our poets made a diversion from the 
personal to the moral qualities of their small mistress, and 
after the usual tribute to her roses and lilies came the fol- 
lowing rather significant couplet : 


''Little Missis Sally, 
That's a ruling lady." 

At which all the white teeth simultaneously lightened 
from the black visages, while the subject of this equivocal 
commendation sat with infantine solemnity (the profound- 
est, I think, that the human countenance is capable of), 
surveying her sable dependents with imperturbable grav- 

Yesterday morning I amused myself with an exercise 
of a talent I once possessed, but have so neglected that 
my performance might almost be called an experiment. 
I cut out a dress for one of the women. My education in 
France — where, in some important respects, I think girls 
are better trained than with us — had sent me home to 
England, at sixteen, an adept in the female mystery of 
needle-work. Not only owing to the Saturday's disci- 
pline of clothes-mending by all the classes — while l'Abbe 
Millot's history (of blessed boring memory) was being 
read aloud, to prevent " vain babblings," and insure 
wholesome mental occupation the while — was I an expert 
patcher and mender, darner and piecer (darning and mark- 
ing were my specialties), but the white cotton embroidery 
of which every French woman has always a piece under 
her h&ndpour les momens perches, which are thus any thing 
but perdtcs, was as familar to us as to the Irish cottagers 
of the present day, and cutting out and making my dresses 
was among the more advanced branches of the female ac- 
complishment to which I attained.* The luxury of a lady's 

* Some of our great English ladies are, I know, exquisite needle- 
women ; but I do not think, in spite of these exceptional examples, 
that young English ladies of the higher classes are much skilled in 
this respect at the present day ; and as for the democratic daughters 
of America, who for many reasons might be supposed likely to be well 
up in such housewifely lore, they are, for the most part, so ignorant 
of it that I have heard the most eloquent preacher of the city of New 


maid of my own, indulged in ever since the days of my 
''coming out," has naturally enough caused my right hand 
to forget its cunning, and regret and shame at having lost 
any useful lore in my life made me accede, for my own 
sake, to the request of one of our multitudinous Dianas 
and innumerable Chloes to cut out dresses for each of 
them, especially as they (wonderful to relate) declared 
themselves able to stitch them if I would do the cutting. 
Since I have been on the plantation I have already spent 
considerable time in what the French call "confection- 
ing" baby bundles, i. e., the rough and very simple tiny 
habiliments of coarse cotton and scarlet flannel which form 
a baby's layette here, and of which I have run up some 
scores ; but my present task was far more difficult. 
Chloe was an ordinarv mortal neoress enough, but Diana 
might have been the Huntress of the "Woods herself, done 
into the African type. Tall, large, straight, well made, 
profoundly serious, she stood like a bronze statue, while I, 
mounted on a stool (the only way in which I could attain 
to the noble shoulders and bust of my lay figure), pinned 
and measured, and cut and shaped, under the superintend- 
ence of M , and had the satisfaction of seeing the fine 

proportions of my black goddess quite becomingly clothed 
in a high, tight-fitting body of the gayest chintz, which 
she really contrived to put together quite creditably. 
I was so elated with my own part of this performance 

York advert to their incapacity in this respect as an impediment to 
their assistance of the poor, and ascribe to the fact that the daughters 
of his own parishioners did not know how to sew, the impossibility of 
their giving the most valuable species of help to the women of the 
needier classes, whose condition could hardly be more effectually im- 
proved than by acquiring such useful knowledge. I have known 
young American school-girls duly instructed in the nature of the par- 
allaxes of the stars, but, as a rule, they do not know how to darn their 
stockings. Les Dames du Sacre Cceur do better for their high-born 
and well-bred pupils than this. 


that I then and there determined to put into execution a 
plan I had long formed of endowing the little boat in 
which I take what the French call my walks on the water 
with cushions for the back and seat of the benches usual- 
ly occupied by myself and Mr. ; so, putting on my 

large straw hat, and plucking up a paper of pins, scissors, 
and my brown holland, I walked to the steps, and, jump- 
ing into the little canoe, began piecing, and measuring, 
and cutting the cushions, which were to be stuffed with 
the tree moss by some of the people who understand 
making a rough kind of mattress. My inanimate subject, 
however, proved far more troublesome to fit than my liv- 
ing lay figure, for the little cockle-shell ducked, and dived, 
and rocked, and tipped, and courtesied, and tilted, as I 
knelt first on one side and then on the other, fitting her, 
till I was almost in despair ; however, I got a sort of pat- 
tern at last, and by dint of some pertinacious efforts — 
which, in their incompleteness, did not escape some sar- 
castic remarks from Mr. on the capabilities of " wom- 
en of genius" applied to commonplace objects — the mat- 
ter was accomplished, and the little Dolphin rejoiced in 
very tidy back and. seat cushions, covered with brown 
holland, and bound with green serge. My ambition then 
began to contemplate an awning ; but the boat being of 
the nature of a canoe — though not a real one, inasmuch 
as it is not made of a single log — does not admit of sup- 
ports for such an edifice. 

I had rather a fright the other day in that same small 

craft, into which I had taken S , with the intention of 

paddling myself a little way down the river and back. I 
used to row tolerably well, and w T as very fond of it, and 
frequently here take an oar, when the men are rowing me 
in the long-boat, as some sort of equivalent for my riding, 
of which, of course, I am entirely deprived on this little 
dikeland of ours; but paddling is a perfectly different pro- 


cess, and one that I was very anxious to achieve. My 
first strokes answered the purpose of sending the boat off 
from shore, and for a few minutes I got on pretty well ; 
but presently I got tired of shifting the paddle from side 
to side, a manoeuvre which I accomplished very clumsily 
and slowly, and yet, with all my precautions, not without 
making the boat tip perilously. The immense breadth 
and volume of the river suddenly seized my eyes and im- 
agination as it were, and I began to fancy that if I got 
into the middle of the stream I should not be able to 
paddle myself back against it — which, indeed, might very 
well have proved the case. Then I became nervous, and 
paddled all on one side, by which means, of course, I only 

turned the boat round. S began to fidget about, 

getting up from where I had placed her, and terrifying 
me with her unsteady motions and the rocking of the 
canoe. I was now very much frightened, and saw that 
I must get back to shore before I became more helpless 
than I was beginning to feel ; so, laying S— — down in 
the bottom of the boat as a preliminary precaution, I 
said to her with infinite emphasis, " Now lie still there, 
and don't stir, or you'll be drowned," to - which, with her 
clear gray eyes fixed on me, and no sign whatever of 
emotion, she replied deliberately, "I shall lie still here, 
and won't stir, for I should not like to be drowned," 
which, for an atom not four years old, was rather philo- 
sophical. Then I looked about me, and of course having 
drifted, set steadily to work and paddled home, with my 
heart in my mouth almost till we grazed the steps, and I 
got my precious freight safe on shore again, since which I 
have taken no more paddling lessons without my slave 
and master, Jack. 

We have had a death among the people since I last 
wrote to you. A very valuable slave called Shadrach was 
seized with a disease which is frequent, and very apt to 


be fatal here — peripneumonia; and, in spite of all that 
could be done to save him, sank rapidly, and died after 
an acute illness of only three days. The doctor came re- 
peatedly from Darien, and the last night of the poor fel- 
low's life himself watched with him. I suppose the 

general low diet of the negroes must produce some want 
of stamina in them ; certainly, either from natural consti- 
tution or the effect of their habits of existence, or both, 
it is astonishing how much less power of resistance to dis- 
ease they seem to possess than we do. If they are ill, the 
vital energy seems to sink immediately. This rice culti- 
vation, too, although it does not affect them as it would 
whites — to whom, indeed, residence on the rice plantation 
after a certain season is impossible — is still, to a certain 
degree, deleterious even to the negroes. The proportion 
of sick is always greater here than on the cotton planta- 
tion, and the invalids of this place are not unfrequently 
sent down to St. Simon's to recover their strength, under 
the more favorable influences of the sea air and dry sandy 
soil of Hampton Point. 

Yesterday afternoon the tepid warmth of the air and 
glassy stillness of the river seemed to me highly suggest- 
ive of fishing, and I determined, not having yet discovered 
what I could catch with what in these unknown waters, 
to try a little innocent paste bait — a mystery his initiation 
into which caused Jack much wonderment. The only 
hooks I had with me, however, had been bought in Darien 
— made, I should think, at the North expressly for this 
market ; and so villainously bad were they, that, after try- 
ing them and my patience a reasonable time, I gave up 
the attempt and took a lesson in paddling instead. Among 
other items Jack told me of his own fishing experience 
was that he had more than once caught those most excel- 
lent creatures, Altamaha shad, by the fish themselves leap- 
ing out of the water and landing, as Jack expressed it, to 


escape from the porpoises, which come in large schools up 
the river to a considerable distance, occasioning, evidently, 
much emotion in the bosoms of the legitimate inhabitants 
of these muddy waters. Coasting the island on our re- 
turn home, we found a trap, which the last time we exam- 
ined it was tenanted by a creature called a mink, now oc- 
cupied by an otter. The poor beast did not seem pleased 
with his predicament ; but the trap had been set by one 
of the drivers, and, of course, Jack would not have med- 
dled with it except upon my express order, which, in spite 
of some pangs of pity for the otter, I did not like to give 
him, as, in the extremely few resources of either profit or 
pleasure possessed by the slaves, I could not tell at all 
what might be the value of an otter to his captor. 

Yesterday evening the burial of the poor man Shadrach 
took place. I had been applied to for a sufficient quantity 
of cotton cloth to make a winding-sheet for him, and just 
as the twilight was thickening into darkness I went with 

Mr. to the cottage of one of the slaves whom I may 

have mentioned to you before — a cooper of the name of 
London, the head of the religious party of the inhabitants 
of the island, a Methodist preacher of no small intelligence 
and influence among the people — who was to perform the 
burial' service. The coifin was laid on trestles in front of 
the cooper's cottage, and a large assemblage of the people 
had gathered round, many of the men carrying pine-wood 
torches, the fitful glare of which glanced over the strange 
assembly, where every pair of large white-rimmed eyes 

turned upon and myself; we two poor creatures, on 

this more solemn occasion, as well as on every other when 
these people encounter us, being the objects of admiration 
and wonderment, on which their gaze is immovably rivet- 
ed. Presently the whole congregation uplifted their voices 
in a hymn, the first high wailing notes of which — sung all 
in unison, in the midst of these unwonted surroundings — 

ivjsei" ov? \-\) e /UHav^a'u 


sent a thrill through all my nerves. When the chant 
ceased, cooper London began a prayer, and all the people 
knelt down in the sand, as I did also. Mr. alone re- 
mained standing in the presence of the dead man and of 
the living God to whom his slaves were now appealing. 
I can not tell you how profoundly the whole ceremony, if 
such it could be called, affected me ; and there was noth- 
ing in the simple and pathetic supplication of the poor 
black artisan to check or interfere with the solemn influ- 
ences of the whole scene. It was a sort of conventional 
Methodist prayer, and probably quite as conventional as 
all the rest was the closing invocation of God's blessing 
upon their master, their mistress, and our children ; but 
this fairly overcame my composure, and I began to cry 
very bitterly ; for these same individuals, whose implica- 
tion in the state of things in the midst of which we are 
living, seemed to me as legitimate a cause for tears as for 
prayers. When the prayer was concluded we all rose, 
and, the coffin being taken up, proceeded to the people's 
burial-ground, when London read aloud portions of the 
funeral service from the Prayer-book — I presume the 
American Episcopal version of our Church service, for 
what he read appeared to be merely a selection from what 
was perfectly familiar to me ; but whether he himself ex- 
tracted what he uttered I did not inquire. Indeed, I was 
too much absorbed in the whole scene, and the many min- 
gled emotions it excited of awe and pity, and an inde- 
scribable sensation of wonder at finding myself on this 
slave soil, surrounded by my slaves, among whom again I 
knelt while the words proclaiming to the liviug and the 
dead the everlasting covenant of freedom, " I am the res- 
urrection and the life," sounded over the prostrate throng, 
and mingled with the heavy flowing of the vast river 
sweeping, not far from where we stood, through the dark- 
ness by which we were now encompassed (beyond the 


immediate circle of our torch-bearers). There was some- 
thing painful to me in 's standing while we all knelt 

on the earth ; for, though in any church in Philadelphia 
he would have stood during the praying of any minister, 
here I wished he would have knelt, to have given his 
slaves some token of his belief that — at least in the sight 
of that Master to whom we were addressing our worship 
— all men are equal. The service ended with a short ad- 
dress from London upon the subject of Lazarus, and the 
confirmation which the story of his resurrection afforded 
our hopes. The words were simple and rustic, and of 
course uttered in the peculiar sort of jargon which is the 
habitual negro speech ; but there was nothing in the slight- 
est degree incongruous or grotesque in the matter or man- 
ner, and the exhortations not to steal, or lie, or neglect to 
work well for massa, with which the glorious hope of im- 
mortality was blended in the poor slave preacher's closing 
address, was a moral adaptation, as wholesome as it was 
touching, of the great Christian theory to the capacities 
and consciences of his hearers. When the coffin was low- 
ered the grave was found to be partially filled with water 
— naturally enough, for the whole island is a mere swamp, 
off" which the Altamaha is only kept from sweeping by 
the high dikes all round it. This seemed to shock and 
distress the people, and for the first time during the whole 
ceremony there were sounds of crying and exclamations 
of grief heard among them. Their chief expression of 

sorrow, however, when Mr. and myself bade them 

good-night at the conclusion of the service, was on account 
of my crying, which appeared to affect them very much, 
many of them mingling with their " Farewell, good-night, 
massa and missis," affectionate exclamations of " God 
bless you, missis ; don't cry !" " Lor, missis, don't you 

cry so !" Mr. declined the assistance of any of the 

torch-bearers home, and bade them all go quietly to their 


quarters ; and as soon as they had dispersed, and we had 
got beyond the fitful and unequal glaring of the torches, 
we found the shining of the stars in the deep blue lovely 
night sky quite sufficient to light our way along the dikes. 

I could not speak to , but continued to cry as we 

walked silently home ; and, whatever his cogitations were, 
they did not take the usual form with him of wordy dem- 
onstration, and so we returned from one of the most strik- 
ing religious ceremonies at which I ever assisted. Ar- 
rived at the door of the house, we perceived that we had 
been followed the whole way by the naked, noiseless feet 
of a poor half-witted creature, a female idiot, whose men- 
tal incapacity, of course, in no respect unfits her for the 
life of toil, little more intellectual than that of any beast 
of burden, which is her allotted portion here. Some small 
gratification was given to her, and she departed gibbering 

and muttering in high glee. Think, E , of that man 

London, who, in spite of all the bitter barriers in his way, 
has learned to read, has read his Bible, teaches it to his 
unfortunate fellows, and is used by his owner and his own- 
er's agents, for all these causes, as an effectual influence 
for good over the slaves of whom he is himself the de- 
spised and injured companion. Like them, subject to the 
driver's lash ; like them, the helpless creature of his mas- 
ter's despotic will, without a right or a hope in this dreary 
world. But, though the light he has attained must show 
him the terrible aspects of his fate hidden by blessed ig- 
norance from his companions, it reveals to him also other 
rights and other hopes — another world, another life — 
toward which he leads, according to the grace vouchsafed 
to him, his poor fellow-slaves. How can we keep this 
man in such a condition ? How is such a cruel sin of in- 
justice to be answered ? Mr. , of course, sees and 

feels none of this as I do, and, I should think, must regret 
that he ever brought me here, to have my abhorrence of 


the theory of slavery deepened, and strengthened every 
hour of my life, by what I see of its practice. 

This morning I went over to Darien upon the very fe- 
male errands of returning visits and shopping. In one 
respect (assuredly in none other) our life here resembles 
existence in Venice: we can never leave home for any 
purpose or in any direction but by boat — not, indeed, by 
gondola, but the sharp-cut, well-made light craft in which 
we take our walks on the water is a very agreeable spe- 
cies of conveyance. One of my visits this morning was 
to a certain Miss — — , whose rather grandiloquent name 
and very striking style of beauty exceedingly well became 
the daughter of an ex-governor of Georgia. As for the 
residence of this princess, it was like all the planters' resi- 
dences that I have seen, and such as a well-to-do English 
farmer would certainly not inhabit. Occasional marks of 
former elegance or splendor survive sometimes in the size 
of the rooms, sometimes in a little carved woodwork about 
the mantel-pieces or wainscotings of these mansions ; but 
all things have a Castle Rackrent air of neglect, and dreary, 
careless untidiness, with which the dirty, barefooted negro 
servants are in excellent keeping. Occasionally a huge 
pair of dazzling shirt-gills, out of which a black visage 
grins as out of some vast white paper cornet, adorns the 
sable footman of the establishment, but unfortunately with- 
out at all necessarily indicating any downward prolonga- 
tion of the garment; and the perfect tulip-bed of a head- 
handkerchief with which the female attendants of these 
"great families" love to bedizen themselves frequently 
stands them instead of every other most indispensable ar- 
ticle of female attire. 

As for my shopping, the goods, or rather " bads," at 
which I used to grumble, in your village emporium at 
Lenox, are what may be termed " first rate," both in ex- 
cellence and elegance, compared with the vile products of 


every sort which, we wretched Southerners are expected 
to accept as the conveniences of life in exchange for cur- 
rent coin of the realm. I regret to say, moreover, that all 
these infamous articles are Yankee made — expressly for 
this market, where every species of thing (to use the most 
general term I can think of), from list shoes to piano-fortes, 
is procured from the North — almost always New England, 
utterly worthless of its kind, and dearer than the most per- 
fect specimens of the same articles would be any where 
else. The incredible variety and ludicrous combinations 
of goods to be met with in one of these Southern shops 
beats the stock of your village omnium-gatherum hollow : 
to be sure, one class of articles, and that probably the most 
in demand here, is not sold over any counter in Massa- 
chusetts — cowhides and man-traps, of which a large assort- 
ment enters necessarily into the furniture of every South- 
ern shop. 

In passing to-day along the deep sand road calling it- 
self the street of Darien, my notice was attracted by an 
extremely handsome and intelligent-looking poodle, stand- 
ing by a little wizen-looking knife-grinder, whose features 
were evidently European, though he was nearly as black 
as a negro, who, strange to say, was discoursing with him 
in very tolerable French. The impulse of curiosity led 
me to accost the man at the grindstone, when his compan- 
ion immediately made off. The itinerant artisan was from 
Aix, in Provence : think of wandering thence to Darien in 
Georgia ! I asked him about the negro who was talking 
to him ; he said he knew nothing of him but that he was 
a slave belonging to somebody in the town. And upon 
my expressing surprise at his having left his own beauti- 
ful and pleasant country for this dreary distant region, he 
answered, with a shrug and a smile, " Oui, madame, c'est 
vrai; c'est un joli pays, mais dans ce pays-la, quand un 
homrae n'a rien, c'est rien pour toujours." A property 


which many, no doubt, have come hither, like the little 
French knife-grinder, to increase, without succeeding in 
the struggle much better than he appeared to have done. 

Dear E , — Having made a fresh, and, as I thought, 

more promising purchase of fishing-tackle, Jack and I be- 
took ourselves to the river, and succeeded in securing 
some immense catfish, of which, to tell you the truth, I am 
most horribly afraid when I have caught them. The dex- 
terity necessary for taking them off the hook so as to avoid 
the spikes on their backs, and the spikes on each side of 
their gills, the former having to be pressed down, and 
the two others pressed up, before you can get any pur- 
chase on the slimy beast (for it is smooth skinned and 
without scales, to add to the difficulty) — these conditions, 
I say, make the catching of catfish questionable sport. 
Then, too, they hiss, and spit, and swear at one, and are al- 
together devilish in their aspect and demeanor; nor are 
they good for food, except, as Jack with much humility 
said this morning, for colored folks — " Good for colored 
folks, missis ; me 'spect not good enough for white peo- 
ple." That 'spect, meaning earpect, has sometimes a pos- 
sible meaning of aspect, which would give the sentence 
in which it occurs a very humorous turn, and I always 
take the benefit of that interpretation. After exhausting 
the charms of our occupation, finding that catfish were 
likely to be our principal haul, I left the river and went 
my rounds to the hospitals. On my way I encountered 
two batches of small black fry, Hannah's children and poor 
Psyche's children, looking really as neat and tidy as chil- 
dren of the bettermost class of artisans among ourselves. 
These people are so quick and so imitative that it would 
be the easiest thing in the world to improve their physical 
condition by appealing to their emulative propensities. 


Their passion for what is genteel might be used most ad- 
vantageously in the same direction ; and, indeed, I think 
it would be difficult to find people who offered such a fair 
purchase by so many of their characteristics to the hand 
of the reformer. 

Returning from the hospital, I was accosted by poor old 
Teresa, the wretched negress who had complained to me 
so grievously of her back being broken by hard work and 
childbearing. She was in a dreadful state of excitement, 
which she partly presently communicated to me, because 
she said Mr. O had ordered her to be flogged for hav- 
ing complained to me as she did. It seems to me that I 
have come down here to be tortured, for this punishing 
these wretched creatures for crying out to me for help is 
really converting me into a source of increased misery to 
them. It is almost more than I can endure to hear these 
horrid stories of lashings inflicted because I have been in- 
voked ; and though I dare say Mr. • , thanks to my pas- 
sionate appeals to him, gives me little credit for prudence 
or self-command, I have some, and I exercise it, too, when 
I listen to such tales as these with my teeth set fast and 
my lips closed. Whatever I may do to the master, I hold 
my tongue to the slaves, and I wonder how I do it. 

In the afternoon I rowed with Mr. to another isl- 
and in the broad waters of the Altamaha, called Tunno's 
Island, to return the visit of a certain Dr. T , the pro- 
prietor of the island, named after him, as our rice swamp 

is after Major . I here saw growing in the open air 

the most beautiful gardinias I ever beheld ; the branches 
were as high and as thick as the largest clumps of kal- 
mia that grow in your woods ; but whereas the tough, 
stringy, fibrous branches of these gives them a straggling 
appearance, these magnificent masses of dark, shiny, glossy 
green leaves were quite compact, and I can not conceive 
any thing lovelier or more delightful than they would be 


starred all over with their thick-leaved, cream-white odor- 
iferous blossoms. 

In the course of our visit a discussion arose as to the 
credibility of any negro assertion, though, indeed, that 
could hardly be called a discussion that was simply a 
chorus of assenting opinions. No negro was to be be- 
lieved on any occasion or any subject. No doubt they 
are habitual liars, for they are slaves ; but there are some 
thrice honorable exceptions, who, being slaves, are yet not 
liars ; and certainly the vice results much more from the 
circumstances in which they are placed than from any nat- 
ural tendency to untruth in their case. The truth is that 
they are always considered as false and deceitful, and it is 
very seldom that any special investigation of the facts of 
any particular case is resorted to in their behalf. They 
are always prejudged on their supposed general charac- 
teristics, and never judged after the fact on the merit of 
any special instance. 

A question which was discussed in the real sense of 
the term was that of plowing the land instead of having 
it turned with the spade or hoe. I listened to this with 
great interest, for Jack and I had had some talk upon 
this subject, which began in his ardently expressed wish 
that massa would allow his land to be plowed, and his 
despairing conclusion that he never would, " 'cause horses 
more costly to keep than colored folks," and plowing, 
therefore, dearer than hoeing or digging. I had ventured 

to suggest to Mr. the possibility of plowing some 

of the fields on the island, and his reply was that the 
whole land was too moist, and too much interrupted with 
the huge masses of the cj^press yam roots, which would 
turn the share of any plow ; yet there is land belonging 

to our neighbor Mr. G , on the other side of the river, 

where the conditions of the soil must be precisely the 
same, and yet which is being plowed before our faces. 


On Mr. 's adjacent plantation the plow is also used 

extensively and successfully. 

On my return to our own island I visited another of 
the hospitals, and the settlements to which it belonged. 
The condition of these places and of their inhabitants is, 
of course, the same all over the plantation, and if I were 
to describe them I should but weary you with a repeti- 
tion of identical phenomena : filthy, wretched, almost na- 
ked, always barelegged and barefooted children; negli- 
gent, ignorant, wretched mothers, whose apparent indiffer- 
ence to the plight of their offspring, and utter incapacity 
to alter it, are the inevitable result of their slavery. It is 
hopeless to attempt to reform their habits or improve 
their condition while the women are condemned to field 
labor; nor is it possible to overestimate the bad moral 
effect of the system as regards the women entailing this 
enforced separation from their children, and neglect of all 
the cares and duties of mother, nurse, and even house- 
wife, which are all merged in the mere physical toil of a 
human hoeing machine. It seems to me too — but upon 
this point I can not, of course, judge ^s well as the persons 
accustomed to and acquainted with the physical capacities 
of their slaves — that the labor is not judiciously distribu- 
ted in many cases — at least not as far as the women are 
concerned. It is true that every able-bodied woman is 
made the most of in being driven afield as long as, under 
all and any circumstances, she is able to wield a hoe ; but, 
on the other hand, stout, hale, hearty girls and boys, of 
from eight to twelve and older, are allowed to lounge 
about, filthy and idle, with no pretense of an occupation 
but what they call " tend baby," i. e., see to the life and 
limbs of the little slave infants, to whose mothers, work- 
ing in distant fields, they carry them during the day to 
be suckled, and for the rest of the time leave them to 
crawl and kick in the filthy cabins or on the broiling sand 



which surrounds them, in which industry, excellent enough 
for the poor babies, these big lazy youths and lasses emu- 
late them. Again, I find many women who have borne 
from five to ten children rated as workers, precisely as 
young women in the prime of their strength who have 
had noue ; this seems a cruel carelessness. To be sure, 
while the women are pregnant their task is diminished, 
and this is one of the many indirect inducements held out 
to reckless propagation, which has a sort of premium of- 
fered to it in the consideration of less work and more 
food, counterbalanced by none of the sacred responsibil- 
ities which hallow and ennoble the relation of parent and 
child ; in short, as their lives are for the most part those 
of mere animals, their increase is literally mere animal 
breeding, to which every encouragement is given, for it 
adds to the master's live-stock and the value of his estate. 

Dear E , — To-day I have the pleasure of announc- 
ing to you a variety of improvements about to be made in 
the Infirmary of the island. There is to be a third story 
— a mere loft, indeed — added to the building ; but, by af- 
fording more room for the least distressing cases of sick- 
ness to be drafted off into, it will leave the ground floor 
and room above it comparatively free for the most miser- 
able of these unfortunates. To my unspeakable satisfac- 
tion, these destitute apartments are to be furnished with 
bedsteads, mattresses, pillows, and blankets ; and I feel a 
little comforted for the many heartaches my life here in- 
flicts upon me — at least some of my twinges will have 
wrought this poor alleviation of their wretchedness for 
the slaves when prostrated by disease or pain. 

I had hardly time to return from the hospital home this 
morning before one of the most tremendous storms I ever 
saw burst over the island. Your Northern hills, with their 


solemn pine woods, and fresh streams and lakes, telling 
of a cold rather than a warm climate, always seem to me 
as if undergoing some strange and unnatural visitation 
when one of your heavy summer thunder-storms bursts 
over them. Snow and frost, hail and, above all, wind, 
trailing rain-clouds and brilliant northern lights, are your 
appropriate sky phenomena ; here, thunder and lightning 
seem as if they might have been invented. Even in win- 
ter (remember, we are now in February) they appear nei- 
ther astonishing nor unseasonable, and I should think in 
summer (but Heaven defend me from ever making good 
my supposition) lightning must be as familiar to these 
sweltering lands and slimy waters as sunlight itself. 

The afternoon cleared off most beautifully, and Jack 
and I went out on the river to catch what might be 
caught. Jack's joyful excitement was extreme at my an- 
nouncing to him the fact that Mr. — — had consented to 
try plowing on some of the driest portions of the island 
instead of the slow and laborious process of hoeing the 
fields ; this is a disinterested exultation on his part, for, 
at any rate, as long as I am here, he will certainly be noth- 
ing but "my boy Jack," and I should think, after my de- 
parture, will never be degraded to the rank of a field-hand 
or common laborer. Indeed, the delicacy of his health, to 
which his slight, slender figure and languid face bear wit- 
ness, and which was one reason of his appointment to the 
eminence of being " my slave," would, I should think, pre- 
vent the poor fellow's ever being a very robust or useful 
working animal. 

On my return from the river I had a long and painful 
conversation with Mr. — — upon the subject of the flog- 
ging which had been inflicted on the wretched Teresa. 
These discussions are terrible : they throw me into perfect 
agonies of distress for the slaves, whose position is utter- 
ly hopeless ; for myself, whose intervention in their behalf 


sometimes seems to me worse than useless ; for Mr. — — , 
whose share in this horrible system fills me by turns with 
indignation and pity. But, after all, what can he do ? how 
can he help it all ? Moreover, born and bred in Amer- 
ica, how should he care or wish to help it ? and, of course, 
he does not ; and I am in despair that he does not : et 
voila, it is a happy and hopeful plight for us both. He 
maintained that there had been neither hardship nor in- 
justice in the case of Teresa's flogging; and that, more- 
over, she had not been flogged at all for complaining to 
me, but simply because her allotted task was not done at 
the appointed time. Of course this was the result of her 
having come to appeal to me instead of going to her la- 
bor ; and as she knew perfectly well the penalty she was 
incurring, he maintained that there was neither hardship 
nor injustice in the case ; the whole thing was a regular- 
ly established law, with which all the slaves were perfect- 
ly well acquainted ; and this case was no exception what- 
ever. The circumstance of my being on the island could 
not, of course, be allowed to overthrow the whole system 
of discipline established to secure the labor and obedience 
of the slaves ; and if they chose to try experiments as to 
that fact, they and I must take the consequences. At the 
end of the day, the driver of the gang to which Teresa be- 
longs reported her work not done, and Mr. O order- 
ed him to give her the usual number of stripes, which or- 
der the driver of course obeyed, without knowing how 
Teresa had employed her time instead of hoeing. But 

Mr. O knew well enough, for the wretched woman 

told me that she had herself told him she should appeal 
to me about her weakness, and suffering, and inability to 
do the work exacted from her. 

He did not, however, think proper to exceed in her pun- 
ishment the usual number of stripes allotted to the non- 
performance of the appointed daily task, and Mr. — - — 


pronounced the whole transaction perfectly satisfactory 
and en regie. -The common drivers are limited in their 
powers of chastisement, not being allowed to administer 
more than a certain number of lashes to their fellow- 
slaves. Head man Frank, as he is called, has alone the 
privilege of exceeding this limit ; and the overseer's lati- 
tude of infliction is only curtailed by the necessity of 
avoiding injury to life or limb. The master's irresponsi- 
ble power has no such bound. When I was thus silenced 
on the particular case under discussion, I resorted, in my 
distress and indignation, to the abstract question, as I nev- 
er can refrain from doing ; and to Mr. 's assertion of 

the justice of poor Teresa's punishment, I retorted the 
manifest injustice of unpaid and enforced labor ; the bru- 
tal inhumanity of allowing a man to strip and lash a wom- 
an, the mother of ten children ; to exact from her toil 
which was to maintain in luxury two idle young men, the 
owners of the plantation. I said I thought female labor 
of the sort exacted from these slaves, and corporal chas- 
tisement such as they endure, must be abhorrent to any 

manly or humane man. Mr. said he thought it was 

disagreeable, and left me to my reflections with that con- 
cession. My letter has been interrupted for the last three 
days — by nothing special, however. My occupations and 
interests here, of course, know no change ; but Mr. — — - 
has been anxious for a little while past that we should go 
down to St. Simon's, the cotton plantation. 

We shall suffer less from the heat, which I am begin- 
ning to find oppressive on this swamp island; and he 
himself wished to visit that part of his property, whither 
he had not yet been since our arrival in Georgia; so the 
day before yesterday he departed to make the necessary 
arrangements for our removal thither ; and my time in 
the mean while has been taken up in fitting him out for 
his departure. 


In the morning Jack and I took our usual paddle, and, 
having the tackle on board, tried fishing. I was absorb- 
ed in many sad and serious considerations, and, wonder- 
ful to relate (for you know, — — , how keen an angler I 
am), had lost all consciousness of my occupation until, 
after I know not how long a time elapsing without the 
shadow of a nibble, I was recalled to a most ludicrous 
perception of my ill success by Jack's sudden observa- 
tion, " Missis, fishing berry good fun when um fish bite." 
This settled the fishing for that morning, and I let Jack 
paddle me down the broad turbid stream, endeavoring to 
answer in the most comprehensible manner to his keen 
but utterly undeveloped intellects the innumerable ques- 
tions with which he plied me about Philadelphia, about 
England, about the Atlantic, etc. He dilated much upon 
the charms of St. Simon's, to which he appeared very glad 
that we were going ; and, among other items of descrip- 
tion, mentioned what I was very glad to hear, that it was 
a beautiful place for riding, and that I should be able to 
indulge to my heart's content in my favorite exercise, from 
which I have, of course, been utterly debarred in this small 
dikeland of ours. He insinuated more than once his hope 
and desire that he might be allowed to accompany me, 
but as I knew nothing at all about his capacity for eques- 
trian exercises, or any of the arrangements that might or 
might not interfere with such a plan, I was discreetly si- 
lent, and took no notice of his most comically turned hints 
on the subject. In our row we started a quantity of wild 
duck, and he told me there was a great deal of game at 
St. Simon's, but that the people did not contrive to catch 
much, though they laid traps constantly for it. Of course 
their possessing fire-arms is quite out of the question; 
but this abundance of what must be to them such espe- 
cially desirable prey makes the fact a great hardship. I 
almost wonder they don't learn to shoot like savages with 


bows and arrows ; but these would be weapons, and equal- 
ly forbidden them. 

In the afternoon I saw Mr. off for St. Simon's ; it 

is fifteen miles lower down the river, and a large island 
at the very mouth of the Altamaha. 

The boat he went in was a large, broad, rather heavy, 
though well-built craft, by no means as swift or elegant 
as the narrow eight-oared long-boat in which he gener- 
ally takes his walks on the water, but well adapted for 
the traffic between the two plantations, where it serves the 
purpose of a sort of omnibus or stage-coach for the trans- 
fer of the people from one to the other, and of a baggage- 
wagon or cart for the conveyance of all sorts of house- 
hold goods, chattels, and necessaries. Mr. sat in the 

middle of a perfect chaos of such freight; and as the boat 
pushed off, and the steersman took her into the stream, 
the men at the oars set up a chorus, which they continued 
to chant in unison with each other, and in time with their 
stroke, till the voices and oars were heard no more from 
the distance. I believe I have mentioned to you before 
the peculiar characteristics of this veritable negro min- 
strelsy — how they all sing in unison, having never, it ap- 
pears, attempted or heard any thing like part-singing. 
Their voices seem oftener tenor than any other quality, 
and the tune and time they keep something quite won- 
derful ; such truth of intonation and accent would make 
almost any music agreeable. That which I have heard 
these people sing is often plaintive and pretty, but almost 
always has some resemblance to tunes with which they 
must have become acquainted through the instrumentality 
of white men ; their overseers or masters whistling Scotch 
or Irish airs, of which they have produced by ear these 
rifacciamenti. The note for note reproduction of " Ah ! 
vous dirai-je, maman?" in one of the most popular of the 
so-called negro melodies with which all America and En- 


gland are familiar, is an example of this very transparent 
plagiarism ; and the tune with which Mr. — 's rowers 
started him down the Altamaha, as I stood at the steps 
to see him off, was a very distinct descendant of " Coming 
through the Rye." The words, however, Were astonish- 
ingly primitive, especially the first line, which, when it 
burst from their eight throats in high unison, sent me 
into fits of laughter. 

"Jenny shake her toe at me, 

Jenny gone away ; 
Jenny shake her toe at me, 

Jenny gone away. 
Hurrah ! Miss Susy, oh ! 

Jenny gone away ; 
Hurrah ! Miss Susy, oh ! 

Jenny gone away." 

What the obnoxious Jenny meant by shaking her toe, 
whether defiance or mere departure, I never could ascer- 
tain, but her going away was an unmistakable subject of 
satisfaction ; and the pause made on the last " oh !" before 
the final announcement of her departure, had really a good 
deal of dramatic and musical effect. Except the extem- 
poraneous chants in our honor, of which I have written 
to you before, I have never heard the negroes on Mr. 

's plantation sing any words that could be said to 

have any sense. To one, an extremely pretty, plaintive, 
and original air, there was but one line, which was re- 
peated with a sort of wailing chorus — 

"Oh ! my massa told me, there's no grass in Georgia." 

Upon inquiring the meaning of which, I was told it was 
supposed to be the lamentation of a slave from one of the 
more northerly states, Virginia or Carolina, where the la- 
bor of hoeing the weeds, or grass as they call it, is not 
nearly so severe as here, in the rice and cotton lands of 


Georgia. Another very pretty and pathetic tune began 
with words that seemed to promise something sentiment- 

" Fare you well, and good-by, oh, oh ! 
I'm goin' away to leave you, oh, oh !" 

but immediately went off into nonsense verses about gen- 
tlemen in the parlor drinking wine and cordial, and ladies 
in the drawiog-room drinking tea and coffee, etc. I have 
heard that many of the masters and overseers on these 
plantations prohibit melancholy tunes or words, and en- 
courage nothing but cheerful music and senseless words, 
deprecating the effect of sadder strains upon the slaves, 
whose peculiar musical sensibility might be expected to 
make them especially excitable by any songs of a plain- 
tive character, and having any reference to their particu- 
lar hardships. If it is true, I think it a judicious precau- 
tion enough— these poor slaves are just the sort of people 
over whom a popular musical appeal to their feelings and 
passions would have an immense power. 

In the evening, Mr. *s departure left me to the 

pleasures of an uninterrupted tete-d-tete with his cross-eyed 
overseer, and I endeavored, as I generally do, to atone by 
my conversibleness and civility for the additional trouble 
which, no doubt, all my outlandish ways and notions are 
causing the worthy man. So suggestive (to use the new- 
fangled jargon about books) a woman as myself is, I sus- 
pect, an intolerable nuisance in these parts ; and poor Mr. 

O — — can not very well desire Mr. to send me away, 

however much he may wish that he would ; so that fig- 
uratively, as well as literally, I fear the worthy master me 
voit <Pun mauvais ceil, as the French say. I asked him 
several questions about some of the slaves who had man- 
aged to learn to read, and by what means they had been 
able to do so. As teaching them is strictly prohibited by 
the laws, they who instructed them, and such of them as 

F 2 


acquired the knowledge, must have been not a little de- 
termined and persevering. This was my view of the case, 
of course, and of course it was not the overseer's. I ask- 
ed him if many of Mr. 's slaves could read. He said 

" ISTo ; very few, he was happy to say, but those few were 
just so many too many." " Why, had he observed any 
insubordination in those who did ?" And I reminded him 
of Cooper London, the Methodist preacher, whose per- 
formance of the burial service had struck me so much 
some time ago, to whose exemplary conduct and charac- 
ter there is but one concurrent testimony all over the 
plantation. No ; he had no special complaint to bring 
against the lettered members of his subject community, 
but he spoke by anticipation. Every step they take to- 
ward intelligence and enlightenment lessens the probabil- 
ity of their acquiescing in their condition. Their condi- 
tion is not to be changed — ergo, they had better not learn 
to read; a very succinct and satisfactory argument as far 
as it goes, no doubt, and one to which I had not a word 

to reply, at any rate, to Mr. O , as I did not feel called 

upon to discuss the abstract justice or equity of the mat- 
ter with him ; indeed he, to a certain degree, gave up that 
part of the position, starting with "I don't say whether 
it's right or wrong ;" and in all conversations that I have 
had with the Southerners .upon these subjects, whether 
out of civility to what may be supposed to be an English- 
woman's prejudices, or a forlorn respect to their own con- 
victions, the question of the fundamental wrong of slavery 
is generally admitted, or, at any rate, certainly never de- 
nied. That part of the subject is summarily dismissed, 
and all its other aspects vindicated, excused, and even 
lauded, with untiring eloquence. Of course, oi the ab- 
stract question I could judge before I came here, but I 
confess I had not the remotest idea how absolutely my 
observation of every detail of the system, as a practical in : 


iquity, would go to confirm my opinion of its abomination. 

Mr. O went on to condemn and utterly denounce all 

the preaching, and teaching, and moral instruction upon 
religious subjects which people in the South, pressed upon 
by Northern opinion, are endeavoring to give their slaves. 
The kinder and the more cowardly masters are anxious to 
evade the charge of keeping their negroes in brutish ig- 
norance, and so they crumble what they suppose and hope 
may prove a little harmless religious enlightenment, which, 
mixed up with much religious authority on the subject of 
submission and fidelity to masters, they trust their slaves 
may swallow without its doing them any harm — i. e., that 
they may be better Christians and better slaves — and so, 
indeed, no doubt they are ; but it is a very dangerous ex- 
periment, and from Mr. O 's point of view I quite 

agree with him. The letting out of water, or the letting 
in of light, in infinitesimal quantities, is not always easy. 
The half- wicked of the earth are the leaks through which 
wickedness is eventually swamped ; compromises forerun 
absolute surrender in most matters, and fools and cow- 
ards are, in such cases, the instruments of Providence for 

their own defeat. Mr. O stated unequivocally his 

opinion that free labor would be more profitable on the 
plantations than the work of slaves, which, being compul- 
sory, was of the worst possible quality and the smallest 
possible quantity; then the charge of them before and 
after they are able to work is onerous, the cost of feeding 
and clothing them very considerable, and, upon the whole, 
he, a Southern overseer, pronounced himself decidedly in 
favor of free labor, upon grounds of expediency. Having 
at the beginning of our conversation declined discussing 
the moral aspect of slavery, evidently not thinking that 
position tenable, I thought I had every right to consider 

Mr. 's slave-driver a decided Abolitionist. 

I had been anxious to enlist his sympathies on behalf 


of my extreme desire to have some sort of garden, but 
did not succeed in inspiring him with my enthusiasm on 
the subject; he said there was but one garden that he 
knew of in the whole neighborhood of Darien, and that 

was our neighbor, old Mr. C 's, a Scotchman on St. 

Simon's. I remembered the splendid gardinias on Tun- 
no's Island, and referred to them as a proof of the materi- 
al for ornamental gardening. He laughed, and said rice 
and cotton crops were the ornamental gardening princi- 
pally admired by the planters, and that, to the best of his 
belief, there was not another decent kitchen or flower gar- 
den in the state but the one he had mentioned. 

The next day after this conversation, I walked with my 
horticultural zeal much damped, and wandered along the 
dike by the broad river, looking at some pretty peach- 
trees in blossom, and thinking what a curse of utter stag- 
nation this slavery produces, and how intolerable to me a 
life passed within its stifling influence would be. Think 
of peach-trees in blossom in the middle of February ! It 
does seem cruel, with such a sun and soil, to be told that 
a garden is worth nobody's while here ; however, Mr. 
0~ said that he believed the wife of the former over- 
seer had made a " sort of a garden" at St. Simon's. We 
shall see " what sort" it turns out to be. "While I was 
standing on the dike, ruminating above the river, I saw a 
beautiful white bird of the crane species alight not far 
from me. I do not think a little knowledge of natural 
history would diminish the surprise and admiration with 
which I regard the, to me, unwonted specimens of animal 
existence that I encounter every day, and of which I do 
not even know the names. Ignorance is an odious thing. 
The birds here are especially beautiful, I think. I saw 
one the other day, of what species of course I do not 
know, of a warm and rich brown, with a scarlet hood and 
crest — a lovely creature, about the size of your Northern 
robin, but more elegantly shaped. 


This morning, instead of my usual visit to the Infirmary, 
I went to look at the work and workers in the threshing 
mill : all was going on actively and orderly under the su- 
perintendence of head man Frank, with whom, and a very 
sagacious clever fellow who manages the steam power of 
the mill, and is honorably distinguished as Engineer Ned, 
I had a small chat. There is one among various draw- 
backs to the comfort and pleasure of our intercourse with 
these colored " men and brethren," at least in their slave 
condition, which certainly exercises my fortitude not a 
little — the swarms of fleas that cohabit with these sable 
dependents of ours are — well — incredible ; moreover, they 
are by no means the only or most objectionable compan- 
ions one borrows from them; and I never go to the In- 
firmary, where I not unfrequently am requested to look at 
very dirty limbs and bodies in very dirty draperies, with- 
out coming away with a strong inclination to throw my- 
self into the water, and my clothes into the fire, which last 
would be expensive. Ido not suppose that these hateful 
consequences of dirt and disorder are worse here than 
among the poor and neglected human creatures who 
swarm in the lower parts of European cities ; but my call 
to visit them has never been such as that which constrains 
me to go daily among these poor people, and although on 
one or two occasions I have penetrated into fearfully foul 
and filthy abodes of misery in London, I have never ren- 
dered the same personal services to their inhabitants that 

I do to Mr. 's slaves, and so have not incurred the 

same amount of entomological inconvenience. 

After leaving the mill I prolonged my walk, and came, 
for the first time, upon one of the " gangs," as they are 
called, in full field work. Upon my appearance and ap- 
proach there was a momentary suspension of labor, and 
the usual chorus of screams and ejaculations of welcome, 
affection, and infinite desires for infinite small indulgences. 


I was afraid to stop their work, not feeling at all sure that 
urging a conversation with me would be accepted as any 
excuse for an uncompleted task, or avert the fatal infliction 
of the usual award of stripes ; so I hurried oft* and left 
them to their hoeing. 

On my way home I was encountered by London, our 
Methodist preacher, who accosted me with a request for 
a Prayer-book and Bible, and expressed his regret at hear- 
ing that we were so soon going to St. Simon's. I prom- 
ised him his holy books, and asked him how he had learned 
to read, but found it impossible to get him to tell me. I 
wonder if he thought he should be putting his teacher, 
whoever he was, in danger of the penalty of the law against 
instructing the slaves, if he told me who he was ; it was 
impossible to make him do so, so that, besides his other 
good qualities, he appears to have that most unusual one 
of all in an uneducated person — discretion. He certainly 
is a most remarkable man. 

After parting with him, I was assailed by a small gang 
of children, clamoring for the indulgence of some meat, 
which they besought me to give them. Animal food is 
only allowed to* certain of the harder working men, hedg- 
ers and ditchers, and to them only occasionally, and in 
very moderate rations. My small cannibals clamored 
round me for flesh, as if I had had a butcher's cart in my 
pocket, till I began to laugh, and then to run, and away 
they came, like a pack of little black wolves, at my heels, 
shrieking, "Missis, you gib me piece meat — missis, you gib 
me meat," till I got home. At the door I found another 
petitioner, a young woman named Maria, who brought a 
fine child in her arms, and demanded a present of a piece 
of flannel. Upon my asking her who her husband was, 
she replied, without much hesitation, that she did not pos- 
sess any such appendage. I gave another look at her 
bonny baby, and went into the house to get the flannel for 


her. I afterward heard from Mr. that she and two 

other girls of her age, about seventeen, were the only in- 
stances on the island of women with illegitimate children. 

After I had been in the house a little while, I was sum- 
moned out again to receive the petition of certain poor 
women in the family-way to have their work lightened. 
I was, of course, obliged to tell them that I could not in- 
terfere in the matter; that their master was away, and 
that, when he came back, they must present their request 
to him : they said they had already begged " massa," and 
he had refused, and they thought, perhaps, if " missis" 
begged " massa" for them, he would lighten their task. 
Poor " missis," poor " massa," poor woman, that I am to 
have such prayers addressed to me ! I had to tell them 
that, if they had already spoken to their master, I was 
afraid my doing so would be of no use, but that when he 
came back I would try ; so, choking with crying, I turned 
away from them, and re-entered the house, to the chorus 
of " Oh, thank you, missis ! God bless you, missis !" 

E -, I think an improvement might be made upon that 

caricature published a short time ago, called the " Chival- 
ry of the South." I think an elegant young Carolinian 
or Georgian gentleman, whip in hand, driving a gang of 
" lusty women," as they are called here, would be a pretty 
version of the " Chivalry of the South" — a little coarse, I 
am afraid you will say. Oh ! quite horribly coarse,' but 
then so true— a great matter in works of art, which now- 
adays appear to be thought excellent only in proportion 
to their lack of ideal elevation. That would be a subject, 
and a treatment of it, which could not be accused of im- 
aginative exaggeration, at any rate. 

In the evening I mentioned the petitions of these poor 

women to Mr. O , thinking that perhaps he had the 

power to lessen their tasks. He seemed evidently annoyed 
at their having appealed to me ; said that their work was 


not a bit too much for them, and that constantly they 
were shamming themselves in the family-way in order to 
obtain a diminution of their labor. Poor creatures ! I 
suppose some of them do ; but, again, it must be a hard 
matter for those who do not, not to obtain the mitigation 
of their toil which their condition requires ; for their as- 
sertion and their evidence are never received : they can't 
be believed, even if they were upon oath, say their white 
taskmasters ; why ? because they have never been taught 
the obligations of an oath, to whom made, or wherefore 
binding ; and they are punished both directly and indi- 
rectly for their moral ignorance, as if it were a natural 
and incorrigible element of their character, instead of the 
inevitable result of their miserable position. The oath of 
any and every scoundrelly fellow with a white skin is re- 
ceived, but not that of such a man as Frank, ISTed, old Ja- 
cob, or Cooper London. 

Deakest E , — I think it right to begin this letter 

with an account of a most prosperous fishing expedition 
Jack and I achieved the other morning. It is true we 
still occasionally drew up huge catfish, with their detest- 
able beards and spikes, but we also captivated some mag- 
nificent perch, and the Altamaha perch are worth one's 
while both to catch and to eat. On a visit I had to make 
on the main land the same day, I saw a tiny strip of gar- 
den ground, rescued from the sandy road called the street, 
perfectly filled with hyacinths, double jonquils, and snow- 
drops, a charming nosegay for February 11. After leav- 
ing the boat on my return home, I encountered a curious 
creature walking all sideways, a small cross between a 
lobster and a crab. One of the negroes to whom I ap- 
plied for its denomination informed me that it was a land- 
crab, with which general description of this very peculiar 

H^ jitf 

!%£\ WW 

I iWI i. 


Mios bo ^ s jvo-w! ia,<? y^sh 


multipede you must be satisfied, for I can tell you no 
more. I went a little farther, as the nursery rhyme says, 
and met with a snake ; and, not being able to determine, 
at ignorant first sight, whether it was a malignant serpent 
or not, I ingloriously took to my heels, and came home on 
the full run. It is the first of these exceedingly displeas- 
ing animals I have encountered here ; but Jack, for my 
consolation, tells me that they abound on St. Simon's, 
whither we are going — "rattlesnakes, and all kinds," 
says he, with an affluence of promise in his tone that is 
quite agreeable. Rattlesnakes will be quite enough of a 
treat, without the vague horrors that may be comprised 
in the additional " all kinds." Jack's account of the game 
on St. Simon's is really quite tantalizing to me, who can 
not carry a gun any more than if I were a slave. He says 
that partridges, woodcocks, snipe, and wild duck abound, 
so that, at any rate, our table ought to be well supplied. 
His account of the bears that are still to be found in the 
woods of the main land is not so pleasant, though he says 
they do no harm to the people if they are not meddled 
with, but that they steal the corn from the fields when it 
is ripe, and actually swim the river to commit their dep- 
redations on the islands. It seems difficult to believe this, 
looking at this wide and heavy stream, though, to be sure, 
I did once see a young horse swim across the St. Law- 
rence, between Montreal and Quebec, a feat of natation 
which much enlarged my belief in what quadrupeds may 
accomplish when they have no choice between swimming 
and sinking. 

You can not imagine how great a triumph the virtue 
next to godliness is making under my auspices and a 
judicious system of small bribery. I can hardly stir now 
without being assailed with cries of " Missis, missis, me 
mind chile, me bery clean," or the additional gratifying 
fact, " and chile too, him bery clean." This virtue, how- 


ever, if painful to the practisers, as no doubt it is, is ex- 
pensive, too, to me, and I shall have to try some moral in- 
fluence equivalent in value to a cent current coin of the 
realm. What a poor chance, indeed, the poor abstract 
idea runs ! however, it is really a comfort to see the poor 
little woolly heads now, in most instances, stripped of 
their additional filthy artificial envelopes. 

In my afternoon's row to-day I passed a huge dead 
alligator, lying half in and half out of the muddy slime of 
the river bank — a most hideous object it was, and I 
was glad to turn my eyes to the beautiful surface of the 
mid stream, all burnished with sunset glories, and broken 
with the vivacious gambols of a school of porpoises. It 
is curious, I think, that these creatures should come fifteen 
miles from the sea to enliven the waters round our little 
rice swamp. 

While rowing this evening, I was led by my conversa- 
tion with Jack to some of those reflections with which 
my mind is naturally incessantly filled here, but which I 
am obliged to be very careful not to give any utterance 
to. The testimony of no negro is received in a Southern 
court of law, and the reason commonly adduced for this 
is, that the state of ignorance in which the negroes are 
necessarily kept renders them incapable of comprehending 
the obligations of an oath, and yet, with an inconsistency 
which might be said to border on effrontery, these same 
people are admitted to the most holy sacrament of the 
Church, and are certainly thereby supposed to be capable 
of assuming the highest Christian obligations, and the 
entire fulfillment of God's commandments, including, of 
course, the duty of speaking the truth at all times. 

As we were proceeding down the river, we met the 
flat, as it is called, a huge sort of clumsy boat, more like a 
raft than any other species of craft, coming up from St. 
Simon's with its usual swarthy freight of Mr. 's de- 


pendents from that place. I made Jack turn our canoe, 
because the universal outcries and exclamations very dis- 
tinctly intimated that I should be expected to be at home 
to receive the homage of this cargo of " massa's people." 
No sooner, indeed, had I disembarked and reached the 
house, than a dark cloud of black life filled the piazza and 
swarmed up the steps, and I had to shake hands, like a 
popular president, till my arm ached at the shoulder-joint. 
When this tribe had dispersed itself, a very old woman, 
with a remarkably intelligent, nice-looking young girl, 
came forward and claimed my attention. The old wom- 
an, who must, I think, by Jier appearance, have been near 
seventy, had been one of the house servants on St. Simon's 
Island in Major 's time, and retained a certain digni- 
fied courtesy and respectfulness of manner which is by no 
means an uncommon attribute of the better class of slaves, 
whose intercourse with their masters, while tending to 
expand their intelligence, cultivates, at the same time, the 
natural turn for good manners which is, I think, a dis- 
tinctive peculiarity of negroes, if not in the kingdom of 
Dahomey, certainly in the United States of America. If 
it can be for a moment attributed to the beneficent influ- 
ence of slavery on their natures (and I think slaveowners 
are quite likely to imagine so), it is curious enough that 
there is hardly any alloy whatever of cringing servility, 
or even humility, in the good manners of the blacks, but 
a rather courtly and affable condescension which, com- 
bined with their affection for, and misapplication of, long 
words, produces an exceedingly comical effect. Old House 
Molly, after congratulating herself, with many thanks to 
heaven, for having spared her to see " massa's" wife and 
children, drew forward her young companion, and in- 
formed me she was one of her numerous grandchildren. 
The damsel, ycleped Louisa, made rather a shamefaced 
obeisance, and her old grandmother went on to inform 


me that she had only lately been forgiven by the overseer 
for an attempt to run away from the plantation. I in- 
quired the cause of her desire to do so — a " thrashing" 
she had got for an unfinished task — " but lor, missis," ex- 
plained the old woman, " taint no use — what use nigger 
run away ? — de swamp all round ; dey get in dar, an' dey 
starve to def, or de shakes eat 'em up— -massa's nigger, 
dey don't neber run away ;" and if the good lady's ac- 
count of their prospects in doing so is correct (which, 
substituting biting for eating on the part of the snakes, it 
undoubtedly is), one does not see exactly what particular 

merit the institution of slavery as practiced on Mr. 's 

plantation derives from the fact that his "nigger don't 
neber run away." 

After dismissing Molly and her granddaughter, I was 
about to re-enter the house, when I was stopped by Bet- 
ty, head man Frank's wife, who came with a petition that 
she might be baptized. As usual with all requests in- 
volving any thing more than an immediate physical indul- 
gence, I promised to refer the matter to Mr. , but ex- 
pressed some surprise that Betty, now by no means a 
young woman, should have postponed a ceremony which 
the religious among the slaves are apt to attach much im- 
portance to. She told me she had more than once ap- 
plied for this permission to Massa.K (the former over- 
seer), but had never been able to obtain it, but that now 
she thought she would ask " de missis."* 

* Of this woman's life on the plantation I subsequently learned the 
following circumstances : She was the wife of head man Frank, the 

most intelligent and trustworthy of Mr. 's slaves ; the head driver 

■ — second in command to the overseer, and, indeed, second to none dur- 
ing the pestilential season, when the rice swamps can not with impuni- 
ty be inhabited by any white man, and when, therefore, the whole force 
employed in its cultivation on the island remains entirely under his 
authority and control. His wife — a tidy, trim, intelligent woman, with 
a pretty figure, but a decidedly negro face — was taken from him by the 


Yesterday afternoon I received a visit from the wife of 

our neighbor, Dr. T . As usual, she exclaimed at my 

good fortune in having a white woman with my children 

when she saw M , and, as usual, went on to expatiate 

on the utter impossibility of finding a trustworthy nurse 
any where in the South, to whom your children could be 
safely confided for a day or even an hour ; as usual, too, 
the causes of this unworthiness or incapacity for a confi- 
dential servant's occupation were ignored, and the fact 
laid to the natural defects of the negro race. I am sick 
and weary of this cruel and ignorant folly. This after- 
noon I went out to refresh myself with a row on the broad 
Altamaha and the conversation of my slave Jack, which 
is, I assure you, by no means devoid of interest of various 
kinds, pathetic and humorous. I do not know that Jack's 
scientific information is the most valuable in the world, 

overseer left in charge of the plantation by the Messrs. , the all-ef- 
ficient and all-satisfactory Mr. K , and she had a son by him, whose 

straight features and diluted color, no less than his troublesome, dis- 
contented, and insubmissive disposition, bear witness to his Yankee de- 
scent. I do not know how long Mr. K 's occupation of Frank's 

wife continued, or how the latter endured the wrong done to him. 
When I visited the island Betty was again living with her husband — a 
grave, sad, thoughtful-looking man, whose admirable moral and men- 
tal qualities were extolled to me by no worse a judge of such matters 

than Mr. K himself, during the few days he spent with Mr. , 

while we were on the plantation. This outrage upon this man's rights 
was perfectly notorious among all the slaves ; and his hopeful offspring, 
Kenty, alluding very unmistakably to his superior birth on one occasion 
when he applied for permission to have a gun, observed that, though 
the people in general on the plantation were not allowed fire-arms, he 
thought he might, on account of his color, and added that he thought 

Mr. K might have left him his. This precious sample of the mode 

in which the vices of the whites procure the intellectual progress of the 
blacks to their own endangerment was, as you will easily believe, a sig- 
nificant chapter to me in the black history of oppression which is laid 
before my eyes in this place. 


and I sometimes marvel with perhaps unjust incredulity 
at the facts in natural history which he imparts to me ; for 
instance, to-day he told me, as we rowed past certain mud 
islands, very like children's mud puddings on a rather 
larger scale than usual, that they were inaccessible, and 
that it would be quite impossible to land on one of them 
even for the shortest time. Not understanding why peo- 
ple who did not mind being up to their knees in mud 
should not land there if they pleased, I demurred to his 
assertion, when he followed it up by assuring me that 
there were what he called sand-sinks under the mud, and 
that whatever was placed on the surface would not only 
sink through the mud, but also into a mysterious quick- 
sand of unknown depth and extent below it. This may 
be true, but sounds very strange, although I remember 
that the frequent occurrence of large patches of quicksand 
was found to be one of the principal impediments in the 
way of the canal speculators at Brunswick. I did not, 
however, hear that these sinks, as Jack called them, were 
found below a thick stratum of heavy mud. 

In remonstrating with him upon the want of decent 
cleanliness generally among the people, and citing to him 
one among the many evils resulting from it, the intolera- 
ble quantity of fleas in all the houses, he met me full with 
another fact in natural history which, if it be fact and not 
fiction, certainly gave him the best of the argument: he 
declared, with the utmost vehemence, that the sand of the 
pine woods on the main land across the river literally 
swarmed with fleas ; that, in the uninhabited places, the 
sand itself was full of them ; and that, so far from being a 
result of human habitation, they were found in less num- 
bers round the negro huts on the main land than in the 
lonely woods around them. 

The plowing is at length fully inaugurated, and there 
is a regular jubilee among the negroes thereat. After 


discoursing fluently on the improvements likely to result 
from the measure, Jack wound up by saying he had been 
afraid it would not be tried on account of the greater 
scarcity, and consequently greater value, of horses over 
men in these parts — a modest and slave-like conclusion. 

Deaeest E , — I walked up to-day, February 14Z/i, 

to see that land of promise, the plowed field : it did not 
look to me any thing like as heavy soil as the cold, wet, 
sour, stiff clay I have seen turned up in some of the swampy 
fields round Lenox; and as for the cypress roots which 
were urged as so serious an impediment, they are not 
much more frequent, and certainly not as resisting, as the 
granite knees and elbows that stick out through the scanty 
covering of the said clay, which mother earth allows her- 
self as sole garment for her old bones in many a Berkshire 
patch of corn. After my survey, as I walked home, I 
came upon a gang of lusty women, as the phrase is here 
for women in the family- way ; they were engaged in burn- 
ing stubble, and I was nearly choked while receiving the 
multitudinous complaints and compliments with which 
they overwhelmed me. After leaving them, I wandered 
along the river side of the dike homeward, rejoicing in 
the buds and green things putting forth their tender 
shoots on every spray, in the early bees and even the less 
amiable wasps busy in the sunshine with flowers (weeds 
I suppose they should be called), already opening their 
sweet temptations to them, and giving the earth a spring 
aspect, such as it does not wear with you in Massachusetts 
till late in May. 

In the afternoon I took my accustomed row : there had 
been a tremendous ebb tide, the consequence of which was 
to lay bare portions of the banks which I had not seen 
before. The cypress roots form a most extraordinary 


mass of intertwined wood-work, so closely matted and 
joined together that the separate roots, in spite of their 
individual peculiarities, appeared only like divisions of a 
continuous body; they presented the appearance in sev- 
eral places of jagged pieces of splintered rock, with their 
huge teeth pointing downward into the water. Their de- 
cay is so slow that the protection they afford the soft 
spongy banks against the action of the water is likely to 
be prolonged until the gathering and deposit of successive 
layers of alluvium will remove them from the margin of 
which they are now most useful supports. On my return 
home I was met by a child (as she seemed to me) carry- 
ing a baby, in whose behalf she begged me for some 
clothes. On making some inquiry, I was amazed to find 
that the child was her own : she said she was married, 
and fourteen years old; she looked much younger even 
than that, poor creature. Her mother, who came up while 
I was talking to her, said she did not herself know the 
girl's age ; how horridly brutish it all did seem, to be 

The spring is already here with her hands full of flow- 
ers. I do not know who planted some straggling pyrus 
japonica near the house, but it is blessing my eyes with 
a hundred little flame-like buds, which will presently burst 
into a blaze; there are clumps of narcissus roots sending 
up sheaves of ivory blossoms, and I actually found a month- 
ly rose in bloom on the sunny side of one of the dikes; 
what a delight they are in the slovenly desolation of this 
abode of mine ! what a garden one might have on the 
banks of these dikes, with the least amount of trouble and 
care ! 

In the afternoon I rowed over to Darien, and there pro- 
curing the most miserable vehicle calling itself a carriage 
that I had ever seen (the dirtiest and shabbiest London 
hackney-coach were a chariot of splendor and ease to it), 


we drove some distance into the sandy wilderness that 
surrounds the little town, to pay a visit to some of the 
resident gentry who had called upon us. The road was 
a deep, wearisome sandy track, stretching wearisomely 
into the wearisome pine forest — a species of wilderness 
more oppressive a thousand times to the senses and im- 
agination than any extent of monotonous prairie, barren 
steppe, or boundless desert can be ; for the horizon there 
at least invites and detains the eye, suggesting beyond its 
limit possible change ; the lights, and shadows, and en- 
chanting colors of the sky afford some variety in their 
movement and change, and the reflections of their tints ; 
while in this hideous and apparently boundless pine bar- 
ren you are deprived alike of horizon before you and heav- 
en above you : nor sun nor star appears through the thick 
covert, which, in the shabby dinginess of its dark blue- 
green expanse, looks like a gigantic cotton umbrella 
stretched immeasurably over you. It is true that over 
that sandy soil a dark green cotton umbrella is a very 
welcome protection from the sun, and when the wind 
makes music in the tall pine-tops and refreshment in the 
air beneath them. The comparison may seem ungrateful 
enough : to-day, however, there was neither sound above 
nor motion below, and the heat was perfectly stifling, as 
we plowed our way through the resinous-smelling sand 

From time to time a thicket of exquisite evergreen 
shrubs broke the monotonous lines of the countless pine 
shafts rising round us, and still more welcome were the 
golden garlands of the exquisite wild jasmine, hanging, 
drooping, trailing, clinging, climbing through the dreary 
forest, joining to the warm aromatic smell of the fir-trees 
a delicious fragrance as of acres of heliotrope in bloom. 
I wonder if this delightful creature is very difficult of cul- 
tivation out of its natural region ; I never remember to 



have seen it, at least not in blossom, in any collection of 
plants in the Northern states or in Europe, where it cer- 
tainly deserves an honorable place for its grace, beauty, 
and fragrance. 

On our drive we passed occasionally a tattered man or 
woman, whose yellow mud complexion, straight features, 
and singularly sinister countenance bespoke an entirely 
different race from the negro population in the midst of 
which they lived. These are the so-called pine-landers of 
Georgia, I suppose the most degraded race of human be- 
ings claiming an Anglo-Saxon origin that can be found on 
the face of the earth — filthy, lazy, ignorant, brutal, proud, 
penniless savages, without one of the nobler attributes 
which have been found occasionally allied to the vices of 
savage nature. They own no slaves, for they are almost 
without exception abjectly poor; they will not work, for 
that, as they conceive, would reduce them to an equality 
with the abhorred negroes ; they squat, and steal, and 
starve, on the outskirts of this lowest of all civilized soci- 
eties, and their countenances bear witness to the squalor 
of their condition and the utter degradation of their na- 
tures. To the crime of slavery, though they have no prof- 
itable part or lot in it, they are fiercely accessory, because 
it is the barrier that divides the black and white races, at 
the foot of which they lie wallowing in unspeakable deg- 
radation, but immensely proud of the base freedom which 
still separates them from the lash-driven tillers of the 

* Of such is the white family so wonderfully described in Mrs. 
Stowe's "Dred," whose only slave brings up the orphaned children of 
his masters with such exquisitely grotesque and pathetic tenderness. 
From such the conscription which has fed the Southern army in the 
deplorable civil conflict now raging in America has drawn its rank and 
file. Better "food for powder" the world could scarcely supply. 
Fierce and idle, with hardly one of the necessities or amenities that 
belong to civilized existence, they are hardy endurers of hardship, and 

OsevoV^ ^^c7i;eKv></ CwU^ . 


The house at which our call was paid was set down in 
the midst of the Pine Barren, with half-obliterated roads 
and paths round it, suggesting that it might be visited 
and was inhabited. It was large and not unhandsome, 
though curiously dilapidated, considering that people were 
actually living in it ; certain remnants of carving on the 
cornices and paint on the panels bore witness to some 
former stage of existence less neglected and deteriorated 
than the present. The old lady mistress of this most for- 
lorn abode amiably inquired if so much exercise did not 
fatigue me ; at first I thought she imagined I must have 
walked through the pine forest all the way from Darien, 
but she explained that she considered the drive quite an 
effort ; and it is by no means uncommon to hear people in 
America talk of being dragged over bad roads in uneasy 
carriages as exercise, showing how very little they know 
the meaning of the word, and how completely they iden- 
tify it with the idea of mere painful fatigue instead of 
pleasurable exertion. 

Returning home, my reflections ran much on the possi- 
ble future destiny of these vast tracts of sandy soil. It 
seems to me that the ground capable of supporting the 
evergreen growth, the luxuriant gardinia bushes, the bay 
myrtle, the beautiful magnolia grandiflora, and the power- 
ful and gnarled live oaks, that find their sustenance in this 

reckless to a savage degree of the value of life, whether their own or 
others. The soldier's pay, received or promised, exceeds in amount 
per month any thing they ever earned before per year, and the war 
they wage is one that enlists all their proud and ferocious instincts. 
It is against the Yankees — the Northern sons of free soil, free toil and 
intelligence, the hated Abolitionists whose success would sweep away 
slavery and reduce the Southern white men to work — no wonder they 
are ready to fight to the death against this detestable alternative, es- 
pecially as they look to victory as the certain promotion of the refuse 
of the "poor white" population of the South, of which they are one and 
all members, to the coveted dignity of slaveholders. 


earth and under this same sky as the fir-trees, must be 
convertible into a prosperous habitation for other valua- 
ble vegetable growth that would add immensely to the 
wealth of the Southern states. The orange thrives and 
bears profusely along this part of the sea-board of Geor- 
gia ; and I can not conceive that the olive, the mulberry, 
and the vine might not be acclimated, and successfully 
and profitably cultivated throughout the whole of this re- 
gion, the swampy lower lands alone remaining as rice plan- 
tations. The produce of these already exceeds in value 
that of the once gold-growing cotton-fields ; and I can not 
help believing that silk, and wine, and oil may, and will, 
hereafter become, with the present solitary cotton crop, 
joint possessors of all this now but half-reclaimed wilder- 
ness. The soil all round Sorrento is very nearly as light, 
and dry, and sandy as this, and vineyards, and olive or- 
chards, and cocooneries are part of the agricultural wealth 
there. Our neighbor, Mr. C , has successfully culti- 
vated the date-palm in his garden on the edge of the sea 
at St. Simon's, and certainly the ilex, orange, and myrtle 
abounding here suggest natural affinities between the 
Italian soil and climate and this. 

I must tell you something funny which occurred yester- 
day at dinner, which will give you some idea of the strange 
mode in which we live. We have now not unfrequently 
had mutton at table, the flavor of which is quite excellent, 
as indeed it may well be, for it is raised under all the con- 
ditions of the famous Pre sale that the French gourmands 
especially prize, and which are reproduced on our side of 
the Channel in the peculiar qualities of our best South 
Down. The mutton we have here grazes on the short 
sweet grass at St. Simon's within sea-salt influence, and is 
some of the very best I have ever tasted, but it is invari- 
ably brought to table in lumps or chunks of no particular 
shape or size, and in which it is utterly impossible to rec- 


ognize any part of the quadruped creature sheep with 
which my eyes have hitherto become acquainted. Eat it, 
One may and does thankfully ; name it, one could not by 
any possibility. Having submitted to this for some time, 
I at length inquired why a decent usual Christian joint of 
mutton — leg, shoulder, or saddle — was never brought to 
table : the reply was that the carpenter always cut up the 
meat, and that he did not know how to do it otherwise 
than by dividing it into so many thick square pieces, and 
proceeding to chop it up on that principle ; and the con- 
sequence of this is, that four hemps or chunks are all that 
a whole sheep ever furnishes to our table by this artistic 
and economical process. 

This morning I have been to the hospital to see a poor 

woman who has just enriched Mr. by horning him 

another slave. The poor little pickaninny, as they called 
it, was not one bit uglier than white babies under similar- 
ly novel circumstances, except in one particular, that it 
had a head of hair like a trunk, in spite of which I had all 
the pains in the world in persuading its mother not to put 
a cap upon it. I bribed her finally by the promise of a 
pair of socks instead, with which I undertook to endow 
her child, and, moreover, actually prevailed ivpon her to 
forego the usual swaddling and swathing process, and let 
her poor baby be dressed at its first entrance into life as 
I assured her both mine had been. 

On leaving the hospital I visited the huts all along the 
street, confiscating sundry refractory baby caps among 
shrieks and outcries, partly of laughter and partly of real 
ignorant alarm for the consequences. I think, if this in- 
fatuation for hot head-dresses continues, I shall make 
shaving the children's heads the only condition upon 
which they shall be allowed to wear caps. 

On Sunday morning I went over to Darien to church. 
Our people's church was closed, the minister having gone 


to officiate elsewhere. With laudable liberality, I walked 
into the opposite church of a different, not to say opposite 
sect : here I heard a sermon, the opening of which will 
probably edify you as it did me, viz., that if a man was 
just in all his dealing '5, he w r as apt to think he did all that 
could be required of him — and no wide mistake either, 
one might suppose. But is it not wonderful how such 
words can be spoken here, with the most absolute uncon- 
sciousness of their tremendous bearing upon the existence 
of every slaveholder who hears them ? Certainly the use 
that is second nature has made the awful injustice in the 
daily practice of which these people live a thing of which 
they are as little aware as you or I of the atmospheric air 
that we inhale each time we breathe. The bulk of the 
congregation in this church was white. The negroes are, 
of course, not allowed to mix with their masters in the 
house of God, and there is no special place set apart for 
them. Occasionally one or two are to be seen in the cor- 
ners of the singing gallery, but any more open pollution 
by them of their owners' church could not be tolerated. 

Mr. 's people have petitioned very vehemently that 

he would build a church for them on the island. I doubt, 
however, his allowing them such a luxury as a place of 
worship all to themselves. Such a privilege might not be 
thought well of by the neighboring planters ; indeed, it is 
almost what one might call a whity-brown idea, danger- 
ous, demoralizing, inflammatory, incendiary. I should not 
wonder if I should be suspected of being the chief corner- 
stone of it, and yet I am not : it is an old hope and en- 
treaty of these poor people, which I am afraid they are 
not destined to see fulfilled. 


Dearest E — — , — Passing the rice mill this morning in 
my walk, I went in to look at the machinery, the large 
steam mortars which shell the rice, and which work under 
the intelligent and reliable supervision of Engineer Ned. 
I was much surprised, in the course of conversation with 
him this morning, to find how much older a man he was 
than he appeared. Indeed, his youthful appearance had 
hitherto puzzled me much in accounting for his very su- 
perior intelligence and the important duties confided to 
him. He is, however, a man upward of forty years old, 
although he looks ten years younger. He attributed his 
own uncommonly youthful appearance to the fact of his 
never having done what he called field-work, or been ex- 
posed, as the common gang negroes are, to the hardships 
of their all but brutish existence. He said his former 
master had brought him up very kindly, and he had learned 
to tend the engines, and had never been put to any other 
work, but he said this was not the case with his poor wife. 
He wished she was as well off as he was, but she had to 
work in the rice-fields, and was "most broke in two" with 
labor, and exposure, and hard work while with child, and 
hard work just directly after childbearing ; he said she 
could hardly crawl, and he urged me very much to speak 
a kind word for her to massa. She was almost all the 
time in hospital, and he thought she could not live long. 

N"ow, E , here is another instance of the horrible in- 
justice of this system of slavery. In my country or in 
yours, a man endowed with sufficient knowledge and ca- 
pacity to be an engineer would, of course, be in the re- 
ceipt of considerable wages; his wife would, together 
with himself, reap the advantages of his ability, and share 
the well-being his labor earned ; he would be able to pro- 
cure for her comfort in sickness or in health, and beyond 
the necessary household work, which the wives of most 


artisans are inured to, she would have no labor to en- 
counter ; in case of sickness even these would be alle- 
viated by the assistance of some stout girl of all work or 
kindly neighbor, and the tidy parlor or snug bedroom 
would be her retreat if unequal to the daily duties of her 
own kitchen. Think of such a lot compared with that of 

the head engineer of Mr. 's plantation, whose sole 

wages are his coarse food and raiment and miserable 
hovel, and whose wife, covered with one filthy garment 
of ragged texture and dingy color, barefooted and bare- 
headed, is daily driven afield to labor with aching pain- 
racked joints, under the lash of a driver, or lies languish- 
ing on the earthen floor of the dismal plantation hospital 
in a condition of utter physical destitution and degrada- 
tion such as the most miserable dwelling of the poorest 
inhabitant of your free Northern villages never beheld 
the like of. Think of the rows of tidy tiny houses in the 
long suburbs of Boston and Philadelphia, inhabited by 
artisans of just the same grade as this poor Ned, with 
their white doors and steps, their hydrants of inexhausti- 
ble fresh flowing water, the innumerable appliances for 
decent comfort of their cheerful rooms, the gay wardrobe 
of the wife, her cotton prints for daily use, her silk for 
Sunday church-going ; the careful comfort of the chil- 
dren's clothing, the books and newspapers in the little 
parlor, the daily district school, the weekly parish church: 
imagine if you can — but you are happy that you can not 
— the contrast between such an existence and that of the 
best mechanic on a Southern plantation. 

Did you ever read (but I am sure you never did, and 
no more did I) an epic poem on fresh-water fish ? Well, 
such a one was once written, I have forgotten by whom, 
but assuredly the heroine of it ought to have been the 
Altamaha shad — a delicate creature, so superior to the 
animal you Northerners devour with greedy thankfulness 


when the spring sends back their finny drove to your 
colder waters, that one would not suppose these were of 
the same family, instead of being, as they really are, pre- 
cisely the same fish. Certainly the mud of the Altamaha 
must have some most peculiar virtues ; and, by-the-by, I 
have never any where tasted such delicious tea as that 
which we make with this same turbid stream, the water 
of which, duly filtered of course, has some peculiar soft- 
ness which affects the tea (and it is the same we always 
use) in a most curious and agreeable manner. 

On my return to the house I found a terrible disturb- 
ance in consequence of the disappearance from under cook 

John's safe keeping of a ham Mr. had committed to 

his charge. There was no doubt whatever that the un- 
fortunate culinary slave had made away in some inscrut- 
able manner with the joint intended for our table: the 
very, lies he told about it were so curiously shallow, child- 
like, and transparent, that while they confirmed the fact 
of his theft quite as much, if not more, than an absolute 
confession would have done, they provoked at once my 
pity and my irrepressible mirth to a most painful degree. 
Mr. was in a state of towering anger and indigna- 
tion, and, besides a flogging, sentenced the unhappy cook 
to degradation from his high and dignified position (and, 
alas ! all its sweets of comparatively easy labor and good 
living from the remains of our table) to the hard toil, 
coarse scanty fare, and despised position of a common 
field-hand. I suppose some punishment was inevitably 
necessary in such a plain case of deliberate theft as this, 
but, nevertheless, my whole soul revolts at the injustice 
of visiting upon these poor wretches a moral darkness 
which all possible means are taken to increase and per- 

In speaking of this and the whole circumstance of 

John's trespass to Mr. in the evening, I observed 



that the ignorance of these poor people ought to screen 
them from punishment. He replied that they knew well 
enough what was right and wrong. I asked how they 
could be expected to know it ? He replied, by the means 
of Cooper London, and the religious instruction he gave 
them. So that, after all, the appeal is to be made against 
themselves to that moral and religious instruction which 
is withheld from them, and which, if they obtain it at all, 
is the result of their own unaided and unencouraged ex- 
ertion. The more I hear, and see, and learn, and ponder 
the whole of this system of slavery, the more impossible 
I find it to conceive how its practisers and upholders are 
to justify their deeds before the tribunal of their own con- 
science or God's law. It is too dreadful to have those 
whom we love accomplices to this wickedness ; it is too 
intolerable to find myself an involuntary accomplice to it. 
I had a conversation the next morning with Abraham, 
cook John's brother, upon the subject of his brother's 
theft ; and only think of the slave saying that " this ac- 
tion had brought disgrace upon the family." Does not 
that sound very like the very best sort of free pride, the 
pride of character, the honorable pride of honesty, integ- 
rity, and fidelity? But this was not all, for this same 
Abraham, a clever carpenter and much valued hand on 
the estate, went on, in answer to my questions, to tell me 
such a story that I declare to you I felt as if I could have 
howled with helpless indignation and grief when he de- 
parted and went to resume his work. His grandfather 
had been an old slave in Darien, extremely clever as a car- 
penter, and so highly valued for his skill and good char- 
acter that his master allowed him to purchase his liberty 
by money which he earned by working for himself at odd 
times, when his task-work was over. I asked Abraham 
what sum his grandfather paid for his freedom : he said 
he did not know, but he supposed a large one, because of 


his being a " skilled carpenter," and so a peculiarly valu- 
able chattel. I presume, from what I remember Major 
M and Dr. H saying on the subject' of the mar- 
ket value of negroes in Charleston and Savannah, that 
such a man in the prime of life would have been worth 
from 1500 to 2000 dollars. However, whatever the man 
paid for his ransom, by his grandson's account, fourteen 
years after he became free, when he died, he had again 
amassed money to the amount of 700 dollars, which he 
left among his wife and children, the former being a slave 
on Major 's estate, where the latter remained by vir- 
tue of that fact slaves also. So this man not only bought 
his own freedom at a cost of at least 1000 dollars, but left 
a little fortune of 700 more at his death ; and then we are 
told of the universal idleness, incorrigible sloth, and brut- 
ish incapacity of this inferior race of creatures, whose only 
fitting and Heaven-appointed condition is that of beasts 
of burden to the whites. I do not believe the whole low 
white population of the State of Georgia could furnish 
such an instance of energy, industry, and thrift as the 
amassing of this laborious little fortune by this poor slave, 
who left, nevertheless, his children and grandchildren to 
the lot from which he had so heroically ransomed himself; 
and yet the white men with whom I live and talk tell me, 
day after day, that there is neither cruelty nor injustice 
in this accursed system. 

About half past five I went to walk on the dikes, and 
met a gang of the field-hands going to the tide-mill, as the 
water served them for working then.- I believe I have 
told you that besides the great steam mill there is this, 
which is dependent on the rise and fall of the tide in the 
river, and where the people are therefore obliged to work 
by day or night, at whatever time the water serves to 
impel the wheel. They greeted me with their usual pro- 
fusion of exclamations, petitions, and benedictions, and I 


parted from them to come and oversee my slave Jack, for 
whom I had bought a spade, and to whom I had intrust- 
ed the task of turning up some ground for me, in which I 
wanted to establish some of the narcissus and other flow- 
ers I had remarked about the ground and the house. 
Jack, however, was a worse digger than Adam could 
have been when first he turned his hand to it, after his 
expulsion from Paradise. I think I could have managed 
a spade with infinitely more efficiency, or rather less in- 
capacity, than he displayed. Upon my expressing my 
amazement at his performance, he said the people here 
never used spades, but performed all their agricultural 
operations with the hoe. Their soil must be very light 
and their agriculture very superficial, I should think. 
However, I was obliged to terminate Jack's spooning 
process, and abandon, for the present, my hopes of a flow- 
er-bed created by his industry, being called into the house 
to receive the return visit of old Mrs. S — — . As usual, 
the appearance, health, vigor, and good management of 
the children were the theme of wondering admiration ; 
as usual, my possession of a white nurse the theme of 
envious congratulation ; as usual, I had to hear the ha- 
bitual senseless complaints of the inefficiency of colored 
nurses. If you are half as tired of the sameness and stu- 
pidity of the conversation of my Southern female neigh- 
bors as I am, I pity you ; but not as much as I pity them 
for the stupid sameness of their most vapid existence, 
which would deaden any amount of intelligence, obliter- 
ate any amount of instruction, and render torpid and stag- 
nant any amount of natural energy and vivacity. I would 
rather die — rather a thousand times — than live the lives 
of these Georgia planters' wives and daughters. 

Mrs. S had brought me some of the delicious wild 

jasmine that festoons her dreary pine-wood drive, and 
most grateful I was for the presence of the sweet wild 


nosegay in my highly unornamental residence. "When 
my visitors had left me, I took the refreshment of a row 
over to Darien ; and as we had the tide against us com- 
ing back, the process was not so refreshing for the row- 
ers. The evening was so extremely beautiful, and the 
rising of the moon so exquisite, that instead of retreating 
to the house when I reached the island, I got into the 
Dolphin, my special canoe, and made Jack paddle me 
down the great river to meet the Lily, which was coming 
back from St. Simon's with Mr. , who has been pre- 
paring all things for our advent thither. 

My letter has been interrupted, dear E , by the 

breaking up of our residence on the rice plantation, and 
our arrival at St. Simon's, whence I now address you. 
We came down yesterday afternoon, and I was thankful 
enough of the fifteen miles' row to rest in, from the labor 
of leave-taking, with which the whole morning was taken 
up, and which, combined with packing and preparing all 
our own personalities and those of the children, was no 
sinecure. At every moment one or other of the poor peo- 
ple rushed in upon me to bid me good-by ; many of their 
farewells were grotesque enough, some were pathetic, and 
all of them made me very sad. Poor people ! how little 
I have done, how little I can do for them. I had a long 
talk with that interesting and excellent man, Cooper Lon- 
don, who made an earnest petition that I would send him 
from the North a lot of Bibles and Prayer-books ; cer- 
tainly the science of reading must be much more common 
among the negroes than I supposed, or London must look 
to a marvelously increased spread of the same hereafter. 
There is, however, considerable reticence upon this point, 
or else the poor slaves must consider the mere possession 
of the holy books as good for salvation and as effectual 
for spiritual assistance to those who can not as to those 
who can comprehend them. Since the news of our de- 


parture has spread, I have had repeated eager entreaties 
for presents of Bibles and Prayer-books, and to my de- 
murrer of " But you can't read, can you ?" have generally 
received for answer a reluctant acknowledgment of igno- 
rance, which, however, did not always convince me of the 
fact. In my farewell conversation with London I found 
it impossible to get him to tell me how he had learned to 
read : the penalties for teaching them are very severe — 
heavy fines, increasing in amount for the first and second 
offense, and imprisonment for the third.* Such a man as 
London is certainly aware that to teach the slaves to read 
is an illegal act, and he may have been unwilling to betray 
whoever had been his preceptor even to my knowledge ; 
at any rate, I got no answers from him but " Well, missis, 
me learn ; well, missis, me try;" and finally, " Well, missis, 
me 'spose Heaven help me ;" to which I could only reply 
that I knew Heaven was helpful, but very hardly to the 
tune of teaching folks their letters. I got no satisfaction. 
Old Jacob, the father of Abraham, cook John, and poor 
Psyche's husband, took a most solemn and sad leave of 
me, saying he did not expect ever to see me again. I 
could not exactly tell why, because, though he is aged and 
infirm, the fifteen miles between the rice plantation and 
St. Simon's do not appear so insuperable a barrier between 
the inhabitants of the two places, which I represented to 
him as a suggestion of consolation. 

I have worked my fingers nearly off* with making, for 
the last day or two, innumerable rolls of coarse little baby- 
clothes, layettes for the use of small new-born slaves; 

* These laws have been greatly increased in stringency and severity 
since these letters were written, and death has not been reckoned too 
heavy a penalty for those who should venture to offer these unfortunate 
people the fruit of that forbidden tree of knowledge, their access to 
which has appeared to their owners the crowning danger of their own 
precarious existence among their terrible dependents. 

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